Press releases are a great tool for publicizing marketing strategies. While marketers will only write them on occasions, press releases work particularly well with events, such as fundraisers, charities, and grand openings
I have been on both sides of this ball; when I was a reporter in college and now as a content marketer. I have both sent and received press releases, and can definitely shed some light on what an effective press release looks like. It may feel intimidating to send press releases to professional writers who then broadcast your message and writing throughout the community. But do not worry, they’re pretty straight-forward.
Keep it dense and too the point.
Like any sort of email, keep it dense and to the point. It’s often best to write in a pyramid format with the most important information at the top and the details below. The press release should be heavy in important details but should remain less than one page in length or a word count similar to one page.
Remember the 5 W’s
Who? What? Where? When? Why? The press release should answer all of these questions. In fact, if you’re struggling to answer these questions, you can literally structure the email with five, Who, What, Where, When, Why subheadings (this works well with fundraisers). Or, you can write a draft with this structure and bring it all together in a final copy without the 5 W’s subheadings.
Make sure your story is newsworthy
Lastly, and most importantly, make sure your story is newsworthy. Put yourself in the reporter’s shoes: what might seem new and noteworthy to you might not for reporters. When it comes to press releases and media coverage, you’re competing with government, police, sports, and many other beats. If you send too many non-newsworthy press releases, your press releases may lose credibility. When in doubt, it does not hurt to send a press release, but critically analyze the event’s newsworthiness beforehand.
Send ZERO attachments
Many marketers make the mistake of writing a press release in a Word or Pages document and sending it as an attachment, but this strategy complicates reading the press release.
Many reporters have sporadic schedules: they can be in the office writing at one moment and be out reporting in the field the next. Reporters tend to be tech and mobile savvy and often open emails through their mobile device. When a press release is sent as an attachment and is read on a mobile device, the reporter will have to download the file and then open it, which complicates things if they do not have the necessary capabilities on their phone. Even though many phones will simply convert the document to the device-friendly equivalent, it’s simply easier for the reporters to open the press release as a standard email and not as an attachment. Remove the extra steps and give them more time to report on your news!
Have a go-to reporter
While sending a press release to the news desk does work, it’s better to send the information directly to a familiar reporter you have a relationship with. If you have yet to build a relationship with a reporter, talk with the reporter who is assigned to cover the event and build a professional relationship with them. This way, you can send the press release to a trusted reporter who is likely already assigned to the beat or at least knows the current reporter assigned to that beat.
Send it to multiple outlets
You never know who will cover the story. Some media outlets might pick it up and run with it, others may have more on their plate. It is best to cast a wide net to ensure your story gets covered, send your press release to several media outlets to ensure coverage. Has too much positive press ever been a bad thing?