Careers Advice : Press Releases
Although a simple document, a press release allows you to put out the message that you want in the tone that you desire. This is what we call “spin”. It means that you can be creative with your news, helping your story to stand out from the other thousands of stories that journalists receive every day.
Compare these two lines, for example.
“One Direction to release an album in November.”
“Global pop sensations, One Direction, set to release fifth studio album before Christmas.”
Both sentences say the same thing but one generates greater excitement for the reader than the other – and this is the tone you want the news to have to ensure journalists report positively on it whilst also making a connection between the release date and the forthcoming festive sales season.
So, I hear you ask, what makes a good press release? Well here are a few tips that might help you on your way.
CHOOSE YOUR WORDS CAREFULLY
A press release should not read like a novel nor should it be the length of one. Start off with the who, what, when, where and why in the very first paragraph so that the main news story is the first thing that the journalist reads. You can explain the news in more depth as you draft other paragraphs but start out with the vital statistics or key facts and delve into the detail later.
KEEP THE TITLE SHORT AND SNAPPY
A short and snappy title will help your email to a journalist to stand out from the crowd. As a general rule, I would say that no title should ever be longer than ten words. It should give a flavour of the story without revealing too much and it should be exciting enough to encourage the journalist to click through to the email.
MAKE SURE YOU ADD YOUR CONTACT DETAILS
Whatever you do, make sure you include your contact details in case the journalist has any questions. Equally, the journalist might want to call you to request interviews with a band or a spokesperson for the story. They might also strike up a relationship with you and keep coming back in the future for more stories. You need to make things as easy as possible for them.
PROVIDE PHOTOS, PLAYLISTS AND OTHER FUN STUFF
Content is King! If you can provide a reporter with additional material, it could increase your chances of getting your story published. You might like to give a superb photo to a newspaper journalist; or you might like to send a streaming or video playlist to a blog or online news site. This sort of collateral can make the story more interesting and bring it to life.
SEND IT TO THE RIGHT PEOPLE
It may sound obvious but make sure you send your press release to the right journalists. Reporters receive hundreds of emails every day so don’t add to their inbox by sending them an irrelevant story. They won’t thank you for it. If you’re not sure who the right contact is, don’t be scared to call the magazine, blog or newspaper to find out!
CROSS YOUR T’s AND DOT YOUR I’s
Make sure you pay attention to your spelling and grammar. Everyone makes mistakes (we’re only human!) but typos can be really off-putting. If you don’t pay attention to your language, your writing and the overall detail, it could be a bad reflection on you.
GET SOCIAL WITH IT
As soon as you’ve emailed your press release to your media list, make sure you also send it out on the Twittersphere. Tweet it at people that you want to share it with; link to it on your website; and get the news out there as far and wide as possible.
ADD A BOILERPLATE (A WHAT PLATE?!)
Yes, a boilerplate. This is a short description at the end of a press release that you can include in your Notes to Editors. If, for example, you are sending out a press release about a band, you can add the band’s biography at the end of the press release. This will provide the journalist with more information about the band’s musical style, their members, and awards they have won, and any forthcoming tour dates that they might have. The same is true for a company – you can explain what the company does in a little more detail.