Press releases are an art form – get them right and you open up a whole new window into the world of your business but get them wrong and journalists won’t take you seriously.
I first started writing press releases while studying for my Journalism degree many years ago. We learnt the basics of how to construct a press release, and how to turn a bland story into a stunning one. My first job was at a radio station as a newsreader and reporter and I came across many press releases – some were fantastic but the majority were run of the mill. Many missed the point of the actual story which had been buried in perhaps the fourth or fifth paragraph. Many were poorly written with grammatical errors, spelling mistakes, and sentences that lacked impact.
It was my job at the time to turn these press releases into noteworthy stories and I enjoyed the challenge. Then, I moved onto the BBC as a broadcast journalist and the volume of press releases sent in increased ten fold. How could we see the story in so many? How could we sift through the bad to get to the good? How could we get the right message across in such a short space of time?
Many press releases, I’m afraid, didn’t make it past the headline let alone reading the first paragraph. Some looked interesting and were worthy of reading on to find the actual story but the majority were spiked, literally. Some companies would call and ask us why we hadn’t run their press release on the air and most of the time I didn’t have the heart to tell them it wasn’t written properly and the story had got lost in its translation.
That’s why I like to think of a press release as an art form. There is a way of going about them that you must adhere to, and you need to give a lot of thought over how you’re going to construct them.
“Many fellow marketers I know choose to write the whole press release and then come back to the headline. They know that the most important part, and the attention-grabbing section, is the bold and enlarged headline. It is the essence of the story in a few words. It is your chance to engage the reader.”
And, don’t forget the press release is free so it won’t cost you anything except your time. Unlike advertising, it’s a perfect opportunity to take advantage of a process that won’t cost you any money but are you afraid that you won’t get it right?
You want to be the media-friendly company, the one reporters turn to for comments, the business that understands how the media works. And, that means getting your press releases right, every time. You need to be at the point where every one you send in to the media is printed verbatim. When that happens, you know your story is getting the angle you have chosen rather than what the journalist has inferred.
And, don’t forget the same press release doesn’t fit all. You’ll need to write different press releases depending on who you’re sending them to. You’ll also need to take into account deadline days and when the pressure is on for the journalists. Don’t flood them with your press releases when they’re up against it. Choose your timing and adapt your press releases accordingly. Perhaps you can take advantage of slow news days to get your message across.
However you approach the press releases for your business, don’t forget they are an integral part of getting noticed so get them right and you’ll be amazed at how they can transform your brand.
If you need help with your press releases, get in touch: