Hold the Front Page! Top Tips For Writing a Good Press Release

Top tips for writing a good press release

Day in, day out, editor’s and writer’s inboxes are flooded by a deluge of PR e-mails, with press releases for the latest and greatest product or celebrity landing every few minutes. Some are perfectly written and sent only to a handpicked, relevant few. Others, however, fall into the trap of being riddled with jargon and spammed to the masses.

There’s certainly nothing wrong with a press release; in their many forms, they’ve been the method of choice for communication between brands, agents and event organisers since print media began. But, in the increasingly brand-heavy world of the press, it’s important to know how to make your press release stand out from the crowd for all the right reasons.

Here are our top tips for writing a good press release.

Is your story newsworthy?

For your idea, product or event to make a story, it needs to be relevant. By this, we mean there needs to be something going on in the world which you can hang your story on. For example, a recent event, piece of research, or survey will boost the credibility and relevance of your pitch. An editor wants to publish only the most up-to-the minute, ahead-of-the-curve information; so if there’s nothing going on right now that you can even loosely relate to your idea, perhaps it’s time to do some digging (or hold fire until something juicy comes up!)

How will you write it?

Now that you (hopefully) have your current affair or statistic to link your story to, it’s time to write your press release. The most successful press releases are tailored to the publication to which they are pitching. In short; know your audience! There’s nothing worse than a round-robin e-mail, trying to appeal to everyone from the Women’s Institute Magazine editor, to the Features Editor at Attitude. It’s hard to believe, but some pitchers fail to even compose separate e-mails or BCC, instead sending the same one en-mass for all to see. In case it isn’t obvious – that’s a huge faux pas, so steer clear! Take a little time to research the writing style of the publication you’re aiming for and tailor your release accordingly. This has far more successful outcomes than the latter strategy.

Where will you send it?

Be realistic with who you share your press release with, but also aim high. Think about the reader of your chosen publication and what they would be interested in. If your idea, product or event is something which would appeal to them, then there’s no reason why you shouldn’t click send. After all, editors choose their content for the sole purpose of giving their readers what they want, so why wouldn’t you? Decide which genre your release falls under and find out the contact details of the person in charge of that particular section. And know their name! This way, it’s clear that you’ve done your research and you can rest assured that your work has reached the right person.

What to expect.

Because press releases are so often sent en masse, the majority are re-written by staff writers at the publication. In a way, this is good news for you, as it means that your idea remains fresh and will be seen at different angles by different readers. However, because the on-site writers are doing the work, it means that you can kiss your by-line goodbye, so don’t expect the credit! It’s also worth remembering that although press releases are ultimately snippets of blatant advertising, it’s the publication’s job to make it seem less so. As a result, you can’t expect a full-page advert to come of your press release, rather a subtle mention of your product, person or event in relation to recent news.

Don’t forget to make the editor’s job as easy as possible.

If a publication shows an interest in your press release, they’ll often respond asking for more information and images. Be ahead of the game and include facts which cover the key questions of Who? What? Where? When? And How?, along with high resolution images and captions. This will save time on both ends and show that you’re an organised professional.

Establish a long term relationship with the publication.

If you’re happy with the way your press release is handled, remember to keep an open relationship with the publication. This will make sharing further news easier and a strong relationship with the press is always a bonus for anyone with a product, event or person to publicise.

Keep it fresh!

If you find that your style of press release is successful, that’s great. However, don’t use it as a template.  Although this may seem like a fool-proof technique, you don’t want your style to become dated or predictable. So, keep changing it up to stay edgy and relevant!

Xenia Rimmer

Xenia is a writer and blogger, currently based in London. She has had lots of experience within the media; spending time at places such as The Sunday Times, The BBC and S Magazine. Writing for YCB is something that she loves, as well as blogging for her own site; www.thedayoffdiaries.com. Follow her on Twitter @XeniaRimmer !

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