How to Write a Press Release that Gets NoticedA PR pro shares tips for crafting a release reporters will actually read.
If you want some attention from the media, issuing a press release can be an effective way to get it — if you know how to write one that will pique the interest of reporters and editors.
Since most small business owners don’t, NCR Silver asked Dave Poston, owner of public relations firm Poston Communications, to share some advice.
The golden rule: make it interesting
With so many businesses fighting for attention, having an interesting story to tell is critical.
“If your aim is media coverage,” said Poston, “ensure the release meets at least two of the criteria for newsworthiness, which are: timely, significant, proximity, human interest and prominence or stature of those involved.”
Supporting graphics can help dry stories feel more interesting. “It is helpful to include visuals, such as infographics, photos and video clips. Any available data that supports the news is also valuable to stir interest and create credibility.”
What can you write about? Company news, of course. That could include recent community service activities and charitable donations, company-sponsored events, financials, new clients, and new hires and promotions, said Poston.
“Press releases can also be used to provide more information about different in-store or online new products, sales events, etc., whether in advance to invite your audience or to share stories on the success of the products or events after the fact.”
Cover the basics in brand-appropriate language
Every press release should contain a few essentials: a headline, subtitle, a dateline, the body of the story and your boilerplate (a brief description of your company).
Poston said the introduction is the most important section. “The first paragraph should include the ‘news,’ answering the five Ws: what, who, where, when and why.” Answer these clearly at the start of the release so reporters get the gist.
“Getting beyond the basics, it’s important to optimize the language throughout,” said Poston. “If your chief brand promise is customer satisfaction, that should come across in the language throughout the release. Your content should help to create or express the culture around your product or brand.”
Include a call to action
“As with any marketing message, the release should include a call to action or enticement to purchase,” Poston advised.
“It should encourage interactivity and generate excitement among your audience.” -Poston
Many releases, for instance, will include a call to check out a related blog post or web page with additional information on the story. If you’re highlighting a new product or big sale, you could include details about pricing and benefits.
To help the reporter or editor understand why the information in the press release is important, consider explaining in your email how it relates to a market trend, and offer yourself as a source for a story on the trend.
“While your company information may not be newsworthy to the reporter,” said Poston, “a story suggestion on how it relates an overall industry trend could be of interest — and you are in a perfect position to discuss the topic for coverage.”
Think of the end-game
The value of a press release depends on the scope of its distribution, Poston noted. And that scope is up to you.
“With the shrunken media landscape, it’s important for small- to mid-sized businesses to find as many channels as they can.” He recommended sharing the release on your company website, sending it to your email list and posting it on social media channels like LinkedIn and Facebook.
Don’t expect too much from a single news story. “Press releases often yield long-term value, such as sustained engagement with customers, ongoing ‘touches’ with the media and strengthened internal relationships,” Poston said.
“We can’t just mail or email a release to the media and expect them to tell our story. We have to use a press release in creative ways to make it work across our various channels.” If media coverage is your goal, make sure you’re working to help reporters with relevant news. If you’re a useful source of information, you’re more likely to get mentions in the press.
Related: 7 Tips for Successful Newsjacking