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Kissing Up to the Press

Press release

How to write a press release

Kissing Up to the Press. Tips on how to write an effective Press release.

Each morning I open my emails with a heavy heart. I already know what to expect – and I’m never disappointed. An inbox bulging with product launches, special offers and invitations to events – an e-postbag of missives not only hopelessly misdirected but appallingly over-written and unfocused.

The press release was the 50 shades of a journalist’s grey existence long before author EL James put digit to keypad and turned the heady mix of pain and pleasure into a multi-million money-spinner! Receiving the perfect release can give a newsman or woman just that. But when a press release goes wrong, those potential fireworks instantly turn into a damp squib.

And despite the rocket-like spurt of social media which many saw as spelling the end of traditional business-to-media communication, the press release still does have a crucial part to play in not only getting coverage for an event but also laying the foundations of a future relationship between press and publicist.

That can only ever be true, though, if the rules of press release-writing are followed. They are simple to the point of sassy. In a word they are…..KISS! In fact that’s the by-word for all information sharing where getting your message across is the be all and end all of communication. And when isn’t it?

What is KISS? Then I’ll Keep It Simple Stupid! Get it now?

It seems so obvious but so many go so incredibly awry. And very few get it right every time. The burden of too much knowledge makes the writers of press releases impart to much information couched in terms only colleagues or ‘those in the know’ could fully comprehend. The press release has just one purpose – to tell people what has happened, is happening or will be happening. It is an announcement. Imagine a railway station announcer telling potential passengers more about the construction of the train than its arrival or destination. A press release should be offering journalists, and through them their readers or listeners, something newsworthy.

So how to go about it….. Think of a headline. Everything you have to say hangs on that. Then the first paragraph should sum up in one clear sentence the key point of what you have to say. The second will support the first with additional detail and the third will ideally be a quote which, again ideally, will provide the emotional response to what has gone above. Think of it as an inverse pyramid – the way all news stories are written.

And if the press release is written along those lines, the chances are a lazy journalist can simply cut and paste in that week’s edition as well as putting the event in the diary to cover.

So you’ve kept the release short, punchy and to the point. Now make sure it goes to the person who really wants it. Sending a restaurant opening to the motoring editor is clearly a waste of everyone’s time. The media is not an altruistic outfit there for your bidding. It, like you, is a business that needs to make money and build a fanbase to thrive and survive. If you feed the media monster with the news diet it craves, the result will satiate you both. Any additional background details, contact names and phone numbers can then bring up the rear in ‘Notes to Editors’.

Let press releases be a pleasure not a pain. The rules are purely black and white – no grey allowed.

If you need help with writing your press release or PR for your business please get in touch.

Sue Wood: newswise@btinternet.com

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