Top 10 Tips to writing top-notch media releases
Top 10 Tips to writing top-notch media releases
Mastering the art of writing creative, captivating and effective media releases is imperative for good press coverage of your business.
Journalists receive hundreds upon hundreds of press releases every day so if your story doesn’t contain all the important information, is difficult to understand, or requires time-poor journalists to undertake their own research, there is a high chance your media release will be cast aside, never to be seen again.
Here at Fuse Agency, we know how hard it can be to write a strong press release which will capture the journalist’s attention. This is why we have composed a list of our top 10 tips for writing top-notch media releases!
- Identify the purpose of your news announcement
Is the story you want to tell different or unique, or the first or last of something? Is it topical with current events or a breakthrough of some kind? Is there a celebrity involved or is it politically, economically or historically significant? Is it a good human interest story that carries a lot of emotional weight? Before drafting your press release, it is important to outline the purpose of your announcement to ensure that it is newsworthy. You must also ensure that there is an audience for your story who will be interested in and care about what you have written. Otherwise, you will spend time and effort writing a kick-ass media release that no one will ever read!
- Compose a knockout headline
The headline of your media release, which is also often used as the subject line of your email to the journalist, is the first thing the journalist will read when opening your email. As the journalist will judge whether your story looks interesting in the first few seconds of opening your email, make sure your headline is factual yet engaging so that they can quickly understand what your news announcement is about, and try to keep it between 5-10 words in length. You may also like to include a subheading that will build on your headline and further flesh it out. However, this should only be added if it is necessary to provide further relevant information that could not fit in the headline itself.
- Write your release from the most relevant to least relevant information
Presuming the journalist has now opened your email, they may only read the first sentence or paragraph of your media release and will subsequently scan the rest. Because of this, you should always address the most important and relevant information in the first few sentences and include the rest of the release as supporting facts. Try to address as many of the ‘five Ws’ in your first paragraph as possible (who, what, when, where and why) but ideally keep it between 15-40 words in length.
- Keep it succinct
There has to be enough information included in your media release to fully cover your story and capture the journalist’s attention. However, too much information can overwhelm the reader and bore them to the point where they will stop reading. The ideal length of a press release is about 300-400 words so when you come to writing your release, try to remain concise and to the point. Ask yourself: is this fact necessary to get my message across or can it be excluded? If it is not essential to telling your story, take it out. Don’t be afraid to also include a bit of information about your business in the last paragraph including what your business does, where it’s located and who it serves. This may not be relevant to the angle of your release, but provides a useful background to your story.
- Include hard facts and figures
The media love hard numbers and research that support your announcement. This is because it provides credibility to your story, makes your story more compelling and saves them time searching for the facts themselves. The general rule to follow is to inform the reader and provide information without promoting your own beliefs or providing your own opinion. A good thing to also remember is if you use information that is not your own, always provide the source.
- Use quotes to provide insight, never information
Quotes are an important part to include when it comes to writing your media release that can give your announcement a human element. If you do not have a quote from someone in the business you are writing about, a testimonial from a client or a customer can work just as well. However, a common mistake many people make is to include quotes that are full of facts, jargon or technical language. Quotes should sound like a real person said them and should be used to provide an insight or opinion. If you are given a very long quote, use the most important points or the most powerful statements as your quote for the media release and keep each quote down to 1-2 sentences in total. Any hard facts or other relevant information contained in the long quote can be paraphrased and included as a sentence in the media release.
- Proofread, proofread, proofread!
Just one spelling error or grammatical mistake can lead to you not being taken seriously! As such, we cannot stress enough the importance of proofreading and checking your work for even the most minute error. If you’re unsure about something, Google it, but ensure it’s a reliable source. Having someone else run their eyes over your work can also be another great way to edit your media release as it is easy to lose objectivity if you are too close to it and can easily miss a mistake. Reading it out loud also works for some people.
- Use images to support your release
Whether it be a photo of the product, the business, the business owner or of someone quoted in the story, photos are a great way to provide a bit more context to your story and support your announcement. If your release is for a print publication, the quality of your image needs to be high. In saying that, you also do not want to send a huge file to the journalist that will jam up their inbox or will be too large to send! Instead, try to keep the image between 1-5MB.
- Always provide your contact details
It is a good idea to leave your contact details at the end of your press release so that if the journalist has a question they need you to answer, they know where to find you! This can include your name, email address and phone number. Additionally, if the news announcement is about a business, include a link to the business’ website, or if it concerns a specific product, add a link to where it can be purchased. This also gives the journalist clear pathways to find out more information on the business or product your story covers.
- Don’t forget to follow up
Last but not least, following up every media release you send out with a phone call or email to the journalist is a great habit to get into. You can even contact the journalist first to develop a good relationship with them and let them know you will be sending them a release so that they keep an eye out for it. If you are not successful in landing press coverage, always ask why to gain feedback you can work on for next time – you may not get a response but it’s worth trying. Your story may also fit in with another similar story down the track so stay alert for relevant stories in the press that you may be able to capitalise on!
Remember that most journalists are swamped with media releases so if your business fails to gain coverage in the press, don’t be disheartened! It may take a few attempts and a bit of chasing but in the end, you will get there if you have a great story!
How can Fuse help?
Fuse Agency understands how hard it can be to write effective and engaging media releases that gain press coverage for your business. This is why our public relations specialists offer our clients assistance in creating and implementing public relations strategies that deliver their messages across all media platforms, including writing interesting and powerful press releases. With extensive knowledge of both the Queensland and national media landscape, our team ensures your messages will reach the necessary media, opinion-makers, and the wider community.
If you are looking for help with your media coverage or public relations activities, then give the team at Fuse Agency a call on 3198 4890 today! We look forward to hearing from you.