Eleven Tips for Writing an Effective Press Release
(c) Copyright 2015 Gwen Carden
It’s no accident that the media turn to certain people time and again for their professional expertise – resulting in powerful free publicity for that source that could never be bought with advertising dollars. Have you ever wondered, “Why him or her? Why not me?”
Chances are you know as much about the topic as your competition – maybe even more. What your competitors may know more about, however, is selling themselves.
You have to let the media know that you exist, that you are media-friendly and that you can provide them with information their readers/viewers/listeners want and can use. A well-written news release is one way to do that.
Here are a few tips for putting your best face forward when producing a news release:
Use an attention-grabbing first sentence that sums up the information to follow. Many editors won’t read past the initial paragraph otherwise.
Find an angle to your release that provides the public with useful information or entertainment rather than being blatantly self-serving.
Keep the release short – no more than two typed pages. But remember, less is more.
Find the shortest, simplest way to make your points so you avoid wordiness. You can always provide in-depth details later to a reporter interested in knowing more.
Avoid trite, overused words like “fabulous” and “wonderful.” Stick to the facts.
If distributing the news release in a particular region, look for a way to localize the information by referring to a well-known person, place, or event.
Follow up with phone calls to the people on your list. You’d be surprised how many people say they never received the release or who say, “I was going to call but I lost the release.” Avoid being a pest, however – strike the right balance. Always ask the editor or reporter if he or she is on deadline.
Don’t give up. It often takes several tries to get something about you into the media. A series of news releases over a period of a few months continually reinforces your name and eventually establishes you as a reputable source.
Return phone calls promptly to the media. Instruct your front-line people to be especially responsive and professional on the telephone.
Don’t be long-winded in your responses to interview questions. Answer them in the simplest way you know how. A reporter who wants more details will let you know and will appreciate your brevity otherwise.
Don’t get off on a tangent that YOU consider important but doesn’t seem to interest the reporter.