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  • Iona Hodgson

PR Tip: How to write a press release that won’t make journalists want to cry

How to write a press release
How to write a press release

I’m going to be honest.

Writing a press release isn’t as straightforward as you’d imagine. I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve heard journalists moan about badly written releases, which end up in their Trash folders or simply ignored.

As a PR it’s my job to be a friend to journalists – I give them the information they need in the correct style, at the right time, to help them do their job and therefore to secure coverage. Let’s go through some of the key elements you need to consider when writing a release.

No fuss needed

I’m not one for messing around when it comes to getting coverage! Just as well, because journalists don’t like fuss – they want to know the nub of the story instantly.

Think about a press release as being purely informative, and not particularly entertaining. This means no long-winded explanations, no fancy copywriting, no industry jargon, no bigging yourself up too much – you get the picture, right? A good story will speak for itself and cut out the need for fancy-pants lingo.

It’s about giving the press essential information that’s packaged in a newsworthy way.

What makes you different?

You also need to explain why your offering is unique or different. This is where you need to be honest with yourself. The hardest thing about writing your own press release is that, although you may think your event is the best, to the press it’s just another event. Harsh, but true.

So, when you write a press release, see it from the journalists’ perspective. What can you mention that genuinely makes your event special?

For example, does the event programme include anything unusual or surprising? Is there a genuine exclusive performance? If there is something different to all the other similar events taking place, make that the lead (or the thing you mention in the title and the first line) of your story.

Concise and short

Also, think about the format. It must be to the point and cover just one to two pages. It’s not always possible to keep it short, as you might need to include a list of key performers and such like, but it’s a good limit to aim for.

Editorial not advertorial

Press releases aren’t advertorials (paid-for articles guaranteed to be published), but if they are covered by journalists, they hold much more weight because your story has won the journalist’s trust. Also, in an advertorial, you can talk a lot about how fabulous you are (which you are, obviously!) – but do this too much in a press release, and you’ll risk losing journalists’ interest quickly.

Back up claims

In this era of fake news, it’s essential to back up any claims you make in a release. So, always mention the source of any data or research you include in the press release (in the footer as a bookmark or link to the source).

There are more pointers I could share in this article, but you’re probably too busy to stick around. Look out for the follow up soon!

If you fancy a chat about PR, just get in touch.

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