For starters, know what defines a media release.
And here’s the answer: A real honest to goodness media release is written out in a specific format. Its purpose: to pitch a story to a reporter or editor.
A release is not a story, although if you really ace it, you’ll recognize large bits of your release in the text when it does get you a news story.
An entire press release should not be longer than 400 words, or one printed page.
Tight? You betcha. An editor of mine in my early days at the once booming Financial Times of Canada used to regularly leap on a desk and shout out:
“Tight and bright people, keep it tight and bright!” And we did. We wrote tight and concise copy, and it got read.
The same should go for your media release. Dump the excess baggage: write shorter sentences and scotch the clutter.
Five musts for a good press release:
Avoid buying a template.
1. Make it newsworthy. (I know I said this before, but I’m saying it again because it’s worth repeating). Have something of interest to say that will interest the readers of the publication(s) you’ve chosen to target. Keep in mind that the media love news stories with a human side to them. Make your angle on the story entertaining, interesting or newsworthy or don’t bother sending out a release. Ask yourself this question – rarely fails – “why would anybody beyond my own back yard care about this issue?”
2. Target your releases. There’s no point in sending out a press release about the launch of your unique nutrition program to Fishing World magazine.
3. Use the proper press release format. Have a professional check the release for grammar and spelling. A spelling mistake can be the kiss of death. Damages credibility. So, get it right.
4. Keep the press release concise. Get to the point in the first paragraph. Use clear, concise, bright language. There’s no better way to get your story ignored than to send out a lengthy release which doesn’t say what it’s about (Who, When, Where, What and of course, Why) right up front. Don’t fill the press release with exaggerated claims and trendy phrases. If you want to know what these are, think about words like “robust”, “interface”, “on the ground”, or (shudder) “killing it”.
5. Write an excellent headline. The headline is 90 per cent of your press release.
Or, you can hire a professional, like me, to do it for you.