Writing and issuing press releases is just one of the many roles Simple Marketing Consultancy in Nottingham completes on behalf of its clients. Consequently we often get asked the secrets of our success in getting them published, very often word for word, with little to no changes at all.
We therefore thought we would share a few tips that have helped us gain this valuable source of free publicity on behalf of our clients.
Firstly, a knowledge of the publication(s) that you are aiming to get your PR covered in helps. For the purposes of the press release it’s about knowing the different article sizes, word count and styles of articles they publish. This way you can tailor your feature and write the correct amounts of words to fit their usual story size.
Then, it helps if you have a good relationship with the editor/journalist. I always try to get to know my local contacts socially. I don’t get any preferential treatment, but it helps to know what should definitely interest them about a story headline and what is an instant delete!
Now on to the actual press release!
If you’re really looking to get media coverage being able to write an effective press release is an essential skill.
TIP 1 – Make sure your story is newsworthy
Question numero uno – is it really news or is it a story about your company – i.e. are you after FREE advertising?
Without a strong story line I can assure you that your story about a new exciting product launch, new starter or event is destined for the trash bin!
Before drafting your press release, it’s worth asking yourself these questions:
- What’s new about your story
- Can you add a spin that makes it unusual or unexpected
- What will make people care and want to read your story?
Tip 2 – Making it past the subject field scan read
Journalists get hundreds of emails every day, so stating what your press release is about in the subject field is vital. Never just put press release. State the facts. Never be creative or cheesy. That is the sub editors job!
So if your story is about the the launch a new office bringing jobs to the region – say that. “Insurance broker opens Nottingham office and creates ten jobs”.
Tip 3 – Keep their interest
If an editor cannot gain the who, what, where, when and why from the first para the story is again doomed to the trash can. This is different for longer length feature articles where a more classical introduction to the facts about the article may be required, but for the press release you need to get past this stage, so don’t make it hard for the journalist. Your first sentence has to grab and retain their attention.
Tip 4 – Add rest of information in decreasing importance
The ideal length of a press release is about an A4 side or about 300 to 400 words. That’s just three or four short paragraphs and a couple of of quotes. If yours is longer than that, you’ve probably got unnecessary words that aren’t needed. Re-read it and make it as concise as possible. Make it easy for the editor to shorten the article. Do the “cut” test! This means reading the write the press release such that should any one subsequent paragraph get cut out – would the article still make sense and get across the same message?
Don’t be tempted to include background information about your company in the opening paragraph. An immediate sales pitch is a solid turn off.
This, along with any other additional information, goes in a “notes to editors” section at the end, normally on page two with contact details should the editor want more information to expand the story further. If it’s a good story you will be surprised by how often this happens.
If an editor does get in touch, treat them like your best customer. This will help you with future PR. Think about what they have asked and reply promptly. If you need time to think say so, ask their deadline, write down your answers and get back to them before the deadline!
Tip 5 – Quotes
Including quotes from spokespeople in your company can be very helpful. Regional or trade publications often use them word for word if they provide insight and opinion and sound like a real person has said them and the quote is not full of jargon or technical language. Avoid the sales pitch at all costs! Ensure the quote is written in sharp punchy sentences which, if only one sentence is used, will still get across the right message and not end up giving a distorted message.
Tip 6 – Manage your expectations
When all said and done a press release has to be news. Just because many papers are cutting down on staff it doesn’t mean they shirk their responsibility to publish news and will take anything that is sent their way!
Be very pleased if your press releases only gets a tiny earpiece mention! Many others will have been trashed in favour of your story!
Tip 7 – The Send
When you send a press release it’s a good idea to include a couple of sentences about the press release and where you think it might fit in their paper.
I normally also paste the words of the press release in the body of the email too, as a busy editor may not want bother opening an attachments
Tip 8 – Photo’s
A picture tells a thousand words. The ideal file size nowadays is about 2mb. Anything bigger and the entire email may not make it past firewalls. Think carefully about your photography and consider getting a professional in. Also use a proper digital camera. Smart phone pictures tend to loose their quality when being reproduced in print.
Our article on using photography for PR may also help.