Call it what you may, but a news release/press release/media release is the bread and butter of a PR practitioner’s repertoire. The skills have been drilled into us since day one of university and in the industry experience I have had so far they have been a day-to-day essential.
So what is a news release?
A public relations announcement issued to the news media and other targeted publications for the purpose of letting the public know of company developments – entrepreneur.com
Or in simpler terms, it is a document released to the media informing them of news and events. Most often they are produced by a PR looking for media coverage for their company or client and will be sent to journalists, broadcasters and news desks locally, nationally or globally for them to decide whether they wish to use the content.
With the amount of news releases flying into journalists email inboxes every day, it is important that yours stands out and gets all the key points across as clearly as possible. So (in my humble opinion), here are five top tips for a killer news release:
1. Get the main points across in the first paragraph. Tight schedules and looming deadlines mean if your news release is opened, the recipient won’t necessarily have time to read it all right away. Getting the news worthy points into the first paragraph, that can be read quickly, may make the difference between your story being used or your email being deleted.
2. Check, check and triple check! Errors and inconsistencies are a sign of carelessness and may make the recipient think your work isn’t even worth reading. Take those few extra minutes to check before hitting the send button.
3. Don’t make it too long. Again, deadlines in this world of work are tight and nobody has time to read your 10 page news release. Keep it 1-2 sides, with some notes to editors at the end if extra information is needed.
4. Who, what, where, why, when and how? Answer all of these in the first few paragraphs. Its what the readers will want to know and often holds the key points.
5. Add your contact details at the end. If they need any more information then make it easy for journalists to contact you. Putting your details is also an easy way to start networking and building media relationships.
My notes on the structure of a news release from a first year lecture.
Until next time…