Each week over 1,000 press releases are issued by organisation using MediaHQ.com. We get to see the good, the bad and the ugly when it comes to press release writing. Here are our top 5 tips for ensuring that your press releases makes it.
- Write a great headline
Writing a great headline is one of the most important parts of your release. It is the part that gives the world permission to engage with you. You should write the headline first – it will keep you focused. Too often in MediaHQ.com we see people writing a rambling press release and they try and retrofit it with a headline. When you write the headline first, you are writing to order and it makes the whole process much faster and clearer. One tactic I often use is I will sit down and write up to 20 possible headlines for a single release, until I know I have stumbled on a magic formula. I will run them all by a colleague and then we will decide on what is the best one.
- Be nimble. Get it out fast.
One of the biggest reasons people fail to get results from their press release is that they don’t act quickly enough. Dealing with the media cycle is very much like holding a block of ice on a warm day. If you don’t act fast the moment will be gone. This can be caused by a clunky approval process, in some organisation they require a committee to sign off. You have to stop this and get the trust of your senior colleagues to issue quickly. I once advised a company on how to improve their press release results who were taking a staggering 2 weeks to approve every story. The moment had long passed before they were ready to talk about it.
- Make sure it’s news and not sales or marketing.
So how do you know it’s a good story? News is made by a simple formula. A raw idea plus a news hook equals a story. We have helped hundreds of organisations hone raw ideas into press release ready stories. Kieran Murphy of Murphy’s Ice Cream is a master at getting quality media coverage for his brand. He once told me: “If I call a newspaper and say my ice cream is the best in the world. They will say: Call our advertising department. But if I call and say I’ve made Dingle sea salt ice cream from a bucket of water, they will write a story about me.” I think that sums up the difference perfectly. You should try and write your idea in a headline. You should imagine how it would appear in a newspaper, on radio or online. Does it fit? Or does it still sound like sales patter? Also ask yourself how can you plug it into the world around you?
- Issue it to the right journalists.
A great story sent to the wrong places will get no results. The best public relations people know what type of information they are dealing with. What type of story do you have? Maybe it’s a feature idea, or a great radio story? It could be a local interest story or a business news item. Categorise your story – what type of content is it? Once you know that build the right list of journalists. There are over 7,500 on MediaHQ.com and you need to choose the right ones for your story. You can also pitch it using our cool personalisation tool that allows you to use journalists first names in each email you send.
- Share your story in as many places as you can.
The good news is that it takes a very poor press release to get no results at all. You should share your story far and wide. Issue it to the media, but also share it on your social media channels, put it in your company newsletter, and put it on your blog. You should have at least 3 independent distribution channels for your story. There is nothing as powerful as an engaged audience on social media, that you have earned the respect.
MediaHQ.com is Ireland’s largest press releases and media intelligence hub. Each week thousands of Ireland’s leading brands use the service to distribute their press releases to the media, and to share on social media through their own newsroom.