Writing effective press releases - it's never too late to learnAuthor: Barney Thom
Are you growing tired of none of your press releases being used?
Whether it's for a newspaper, magazine or a website, the content must be absolutely perfect in order for an editor to think about using it.
You could change all of this, by enrolling on a PR course.
Below is the kind of thing that you would learn, whilst studying on a PR course.
STAGE FOUR: Gathering information
Each press release must be COMPLETE – factually. There's nothing journalists hate more than having to ring you up, or e-mail you, to chase up missing details. You will need:
- First names and surnames of everyone involved (if the vice president's wife likes to be called Mrs M Feliciano, tell her it's either Muriel, or nothing!)
- Job titles.
- Where they work.
- Age and home location in human stories.
- Full titles and addresses of organisations.
- Dates, times, places and maps for events.
- Remember the WHO, WHAT, WHEN, WHERE, HOW, WHY.
STAGE FIVE: Consider the extras
As mentioned earlier, try to make each press release market-specific, in terms of content, writing style, approach etc.
Also consider enticements:
- Photos – but make sure they are properly captioned, left to right, with the first names and surnames on the back – spelt correctly – and the job titles if necessary.
- Reader offers and promotions.
And consider other activities to back up the release:
- Hold a press conference.
- Have an open day.
- Put on an event.
- Make people available for interview.
- Provide a press pack – a branded folder that includes a press release, photos and other ingredients like CDs or DVDs promoting the company, brochures, leaflets etc.
STAGE SIX: Setting out the release
- Type them accurately – perfectly … get each one proof read. Use12pt Helvetica, justified, double spaced.
- Put your client's name at the top, together with CONTACT NUMBERS – preferably 24/7.
- Use templates – these breed familiarity (which will be helpful if the recipients perceive your releases as being useful. If they aren't then that familiarity will speed their journey to the bin).
- Include an EMBARGO (ie a date and time before which the release should not be used) if necessary – at the top.
- Use a precise heading – not fluffy – clearly stating what you are offering and where it's for.
- Put a note at the end about picture possibilities and if people are available for interview etc.
- Include a standard statement of ‘Notes to the editor' about the company at the end – to accompany every release. This should be the same every time – a brief, bullet-pointed statement of who the client is, what they do, how long they have being doing it, where they are based, key achievements and features. But don't overdo it.
CTJT Creative Director