Journalists are inundated with information every day, including more media releases than they have time to read.
Given the competition for journalists’ attention, you need to make sure your release cuts through the noise.
With more than 30 years’ experience, we’ve pitched our fair share of stories.
Here are nine effective tips to help your story stand out for all the right reasons:
1. Write a simple and informative headline
Don’t get too clever with a release headline; that’s a job for sub-editors. Summarise your content in a strong headline that explains the importance of the release, the challenges faced, and the actions, or solutions, happening. Journalists should be able to understand what the release is about just by reading the headline.
2. Write a concise, relevant first paragraph
The strength of a first paragraph, (also known as the lede), determines whether a journalist will keep reading your release. Answer everything a journalist will want to know, including these questions, known as the ‘Five Ws’: who; what; when; where; and why?
Once you’ve addressed these details, progress to a clear, explanatory second paragraph, which answers the ‘Two Hs’: how; and how much. This includes how your company’s product or service can make changes to its context, how it works, and how much money, time, and effort might be involved.
3. Write quotably
Help journalists by giving them strong, clear sentences and pieces of information they can attribute to your company or your media spokesperson. Journalists can only quote you verbatim, so avoid using “our”, “us”, and “we”. Instead, use your company name. Make sure your statements are easy to understand, so a journalist can rely on them making sense in a story.
4. Include third-party quotes
Where possible include supporting quotes from customers, clients, or industry analysts who can add credibility to your story.
5. Write short
Journalists are pressed for time, so keep your material short and concise. Avoid unnecessary detail and description. Ideally, there will be opportunities for company spokespeople to embellish in interviews if the journalist requires more information.
6. Don’t use jargon. Jargon might alienate the journalist and your audience. You want your release to make sense, and a journalist is not going to follow up if they have to Google industry terminology. Spell out acronyms in the first instance and make sure your content and language appeals to a wider audience.
7. Be timely
Make sure that you distribute releases at optimal times. Relevant spokespeople need to be available for interviews, so check they aren’t away. Do a quick search for news that might have circulated which your release relates to, and make sure information doesn’t overlap. Journalists don’t want to receive old news.
8. Don’t write ‘for immediate release’
The act of distributing a release should already imply that it is set for immediate release. Likewise, don’t embargo releases. Embargoes are largely meaningless, given the easy availability of information on the internet. Asking a journalist to hold your release information until a certain date is rarely necessary and just complicates their workload.
9. Include a boilerplate
Offer background information about your company at the end of the release, along with contact details. A journalist and their audience will want to know about you, and whom to direct potential questions to.
For more information on writing successful news releases, or to book a media training session, contact us today.
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