10 Tips to a Killer Press Release

Securing media coverage is one of the key roles of a PR person.  In order to get those valuable editorial spaces a press release is often a prerequisite. Every day a busy journalist may get hundreds of media releases across their desk so the hard part is creating a release they actually want to read.  We’ve put together our 10 top tips for writing a press release that converts to media coverage.  Ask yourself these questions before you send your next release to make sure your story is going to hit the mark and get results.

  1. Is it newsworthy?  There’s no point writing a press release just for the sake of it. Ask yourself what it is you actually have to say that will interest people.  When you do this you also need to try to be subjective about it.  Often, if you are working on something you will be emotionally involved in the project because it’s likely to be something you have poured blood, sweat and tears into.  You need to take yourself out of the story to decide if it really is newsworthy.
  2. Am I using the right language?  A media release is essentially a news article.  Because it is ‘newsworthy’ material it needs to be written in a way that shows this.  If you’re not sure about how to write the press release in the right language read some articles published in the news source where you are aiming to have your article published and structure the language around this.
  3. Do I have a good headline?  The headline is the first thing a journalist will read so it needs to grab their attention and make them want to read on.  It should be short and snappy while still letting you know what the media release is about.  The headline is a place where you can try to be a little bit creative using a pun or play on words.
  4. Does the first sentence have the right information?  The first sentence should set the scene for the rest of the story.  It needs to contain the ‘5 W’s’: Who, what, when, where and why. Usually the first sentence will be roughly 25-30 words.
  5. Now what have I got in the second sentence? The second sentence should provide some more information to lead in to the rest of the story.  The first sentence will be all the vital information, whereas the second sentence should still have important information but with a little bit more flesh.
  6. Is there a Quote? A press release will almost always have a quote from someone.  It provides a little bit more background and depth to the article.  When including a quote always summarise what the quote will say in the sentence before it. For example, Joe Blog said he enjoyed the sunshine on the weekend. “It was great to get out and about on the weekend and make the most of the sunny weather,” he said.
  7. Do I have a picture?  We’ve all heard that a picture says a thousand words.  While it’s not crucial to securing coverage, it does provide a little more depth to the story and if you can get a picture included it means there’s even more coverage on your story!
  8. Is there fact? In order for a press release to be newsworthy it should contain some interesting facts.  If you’re making a claim you should always be able to back it up with factual information.  Numbers and figures add strength and credibility to an article so if you have them, use them.
  9. How’s my sentence structure? Sentence structure will impact on the readability and flow of the article.  Poor sentence structure creates a boring and disjointed story.  Good sentences will flow into each other and will vary in length from one sentence to another.
  10. Is it the right time to send it?  As with just about anything, timing is everything! You should try to send a press release at a time when journalists are looking for a story.  If there is a major news story breaking, it might be an idea to hold off on sending your story until things have calmed down a little.