The ‘Press Release’ has become a dreaded word in the PR community. Do media still carry press releases ? Is it worth writing? Will the media even look at it? Yes ! Yes ! and Yes ! Yes…we agree that the role of a press release in the chain of communication has changed. But it still is a very important document. It serves as a starting point for a conversation on your client with the journalist and a tried and tested tool in the PR arsenal of any good PR professional. If it is really well written sometimes it becomes THE topic-of-conversation as well! Here are a few pointers for you to keep in mind to make your press release one that is worthy of media attention.
The Headline HAS To Be Kickass!
The headline has to be attention worthy. A boring report can be made interesting or worth a second look with a catchy headline! Take a cue from the media verticals you are pitching for. Recall the most interesting headline and then model yours on the same line. Remember, the headline still has to be on your client. It cannot talk about Shah Rukh Khan and be a report on financial results of the company…unless you are claiming to be the SRK of your industry! Moderate the headline according to the sensibilities of the journalists that you are pitching the press release to.
Sub Headline | Get To The Crux Of The Matter!
The headline can be the showstopper but your sub headline has to get them back to the matter at hand. The sub headline should contain the name of your client and the purpose of your press release.
Use TrendingWords Relevantly|
Sometimes, in our enthusiasm to make the press release look cool we end up using too many catch phrases that might not be relevant in the client or make sense in the final draft. (Remember, Joey making the wedding speech for Monica and Chandler, using the thesaurus? ) Don’t let that happen to you. Make use of catchy and trending words and phrases when it is relevant. Just enough to make it interesting but not so much that the message and purpose of your press release is lost behind all that ‘coolness’.
Write It My Way!
Write it in a way that the journalist would write it. Make it short and crisp. Answer the 5Ws and 1H in the first paragraph. No! That rule does not change. It still holds value. The first paragraph has to be crisp enough to make it to a snippet. If the press release were to be carried as a snippet or a highlight what would you like it to say. Keep that thought in mind and make the first paragraph.
Reason and Elaborate |
Elaborate in the second paragraph on the points above and reason with the reader on why it is unique. Remember not to repeat sentences and answers to questions that have already been answered in the first paragraph. No one likes a copy-paste job. Especially not in a press release!
Use notable quotes whenever and wherever possible so that it provide an authentic touch to the whole release. Ideally, it should answer a question or be a quote via a person that is not really possible for you to quote in facts. In cannot be a rehash of the facts. Use the quote wisely to communicate the intent or reason behind the main purpose of the press release.
Highlight It…Jazz it Up |
Use a text box or a blurb to showcase relevant data or points that you feel deserve attention. Again, it cannot be a re-hash of information you have already given in the press release.
Use relevant pictures in the press release. Just make sure you have the rights to it and they are your client images. Do this only if the picture is not taking away from the message of the press release
This is very important. It has to be in a format that is preferred by the journalist. Not you or your client. All the blurbs you use are of no use if they open up distorted or garbled on the journalist’s end. The inserted image cannot be so heavy that it clogs the journalist’s inbox. A pdf format is safe and good but often does not allow a simple copy-paste in the same format. Use word documents as this is the most convenient format for the journalists. If and when they upgrade …you do too !
Translate and Customize |
Yes ! translation is important. Just because I write in English and my client likes it too…I cannot expect the Marathi or Tamil newspaper to go with it ! It is disrespectful for you to assume it is allright. If you want coverage in those publications then have it translated in their language. You can go a step further and also customize it to specific publications. When you meet them or mail them specify the story angle and column you are keen on. Journalist’s appreciate these small details…more than you know !
Slim & Trim |
When you send a press release make it a press release not a history and biography of your client. The press release itself should not be more than a page long. Supplement it with research documents, company profile, spokesperson profile or images.
Check It |
Read, re-read and re-re-read your press release before making a final draft. Ask a colleague to read it if the words start jumbling up before your eyes. Check for spelling, sentence, syntax and grammatical errors. Keep the sentences short and words shorter. No need of using tough words just so you can sound intelligent (Remember Joey and his wedding speech?). The words and sentences need to communicate your message effectively.
List Your contacts |
Provide contacts with all the necessary details so the journalist can reach you for a follow up call or more details. Your details should contain your mobile number and email id – preferably one that is synced with your phone so that you can revert in a timely manner.