As a journalist I am often sent press releases with the intent that I consider writing a news story about them. Some press releases are great. Thought has gone into the writing, they are organized and clear. Writing a story from them is a joy. I gladly take those releases and quickly develop a story.
Other press releases are not as well written. They plod, they ramble, they go on and on about nothing. Those are the press releases that more often than not, I return to the editor and say “Thanks but no thanks, I’ve got too much other work to do”
Want to have your press release noticed and given a chance to be included as news? If so then make sure it answers the following questions:
- What do you have to offer? – Amazingly I get tons of press releases about, well, essentially nothing. Please, please tell me what it is you have that is newsworthy. Don’t make me guess, tell me up front.
- What is it that you have that the media might want? – If you have a visual story, then either include a photo or tell me how to get a photo. Got a graph that shows me how great your product is? Send it along.
- What is the news hook? – That fact that your company made a profit is not news, but the fact that your company made a profit and then used some money from that profit to help a struggling family – now that’s a story I can work with. If I’m writing for a local paper then I probably want to see a local hook. A national publication needs a different hook, think about where you are sending the release.
- What’s the angle? Where’s the fun? – Don’t be afraid to include a twist in your press release, have a little fun. As a writer, I don’t want to pump out boring news stories, I want my readers engaged. Give me some good material and plenty of details from which I can craft a winning story.
- What is your call to action? – Tell me what you want your readers to do after reading your article, is it to go to your website or stop in for a free cup of coffee? The worst thing you can do is give the power of a call to action to the writer because, believe it not, without clear instruction; we just might get it wrong.
- Who do I contact for questions on the release? - Please don’t make me be on hold forever as they find who wrote the press release to help me with a question. I just might hang up the phone and move on. Include a name, phone number, website, and any contact information you have.
The bottom line is this. I’m just as busy as you are. If you make my life easier as a writer, chances are, I will make your life easier by picking up and writing about your press release.