3.6 out of 5 from 14 votes
The media receive thousands of press releases every day. These ten tips should give yours the best chance to being seen and acted on.
Start by deciding what your story is. For example, the release of a report is not the story, it is what the report reveals. News needs to have the ‘ooh ahh’ factor – tell you something you did not know, something surprising or something that is new.
Make sure the date you send out the press release is at the top. If you need to embargo the release so that the story does not appear until you want it to, then make this prominent. Make sure you include contact details for journalists who want to call or email you for more information or arrange an interview.
After the date, embargo details and your headline, set out the body of your press release:
Make sure your story is relevant for the audience of the media you are sending it to. Is it happening in the ‘patch’ that local newspaper or radio station covers? Do you have a case study in their area? Is your story appropriate for the age and interests of the audience?
There is nothing more frustrating for journalists who ask to speak to the spokesperson you have offered, only to find they are on annual leave. Equally, make sure if you are the contact on your press release, you are available. Include a mobile phone number if you are likely to be out of the office.
Copy your press release and put it into the body of an email. Don’t send it as an attachment as that can mean it goes into a journalist’s junk mail. Think about what you put in the subject line of your email. You can use the headline of your press release and if you have local case studies or figures available, you can highlight that too. If you are sending it out to lots of people at the same time, send the release to yourself and blind cc all the other recipients.
Don’t ask a journalist if they have seen your release. Aim instead for a little bit of conversation - is it in their diary? Would they like to speak to a case study or a spokesperson? Highlight the figures for their region or give them an additional bit of interesting information. If you’re calling the newsdesk of a local radio station do so after the hour so that the news bulletin is out of the way.
Feature writers will usually work three to six weeks in advance so be prepared to talk to them well ahead of time. Newsdesks do not decide on their stories much more than a day ahead.
Keep a record of who you have sent your press release to and what their response is. You will know where you are up to and it is information you can refer to and build on in the future. It is also useful for feeding back to colleagues.
Press releases are a great way to get your message out there. But there are other ways of sharing your news and opinions. Watch key websites relevant to your sector and look for opportunities to contribute editorial or comment. Share your organisation’s expertise on professional networks, offer spokespeople for online Q&As and get involved in Twitter conversations.
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