How to Write a Press Release
Would it surprise you to know that only a portion of news is generated by original reporting and that much of what is produced is generated by tips and news releases? Do you want to know what you can do to increase the likelihood your press releases will be spotlighted? Give them - meaning journalists - what they need, want and expect. Since no one can guarantee what combination of elements will result in coverage, there are elements of distributing press releases which are in your direct control that can strongly influence your press releases' potential.
Your press releases could spark stories you're not even aware of because your company is not named.
Broadcast or published news does not identify the source of a story idea. It could well be sparked by your press release.
Take, for example, a young, entrepreneurial company that issued a press release about college textbook rental. The recent grads that issued the press release were concerned within a couple of days that they had minimal direct contact from the media. After investigating further, dozens of stories related to the topic with a local perspective were found. There were no stories found for months leading up to the press release distribution. The stories found after the press release was issued featured a similar story with quotes from students attending universities who lived close to each media outlet. The number of articles could only lead to the conclusion - that a correlation could be drawn between the press release issued by the company which presented the idea of rising college textbook costs and the story coverage that told the story from a regional angle in a specific community.
What do journalists need or want?
There is no exact recipe or patented formula, but by using common sense you can think of several items within a few moments.
If you were pressed for time, what would make your life easier? Would it be:
. Someone who got everything ready for you so you weren't scrambling for the door?
. Organization of items that you needed to prepare a meal or pack for a trip?
. Maps, pictures or other visible clues?
. Knowing the direct number for the person you need to speak with?
. Having the tools you need to put things together?
Transfer these concepts to the field of journalism and reporting, and you can come up with ideas about what to write in your press releases and what you can provide the media with to make story development easier:
. Properly formatted press release content that is concise - using the most relevant
. Research and statistics backed up by complete source information.
. Attractive, interesting angles of subjects in pictures.
. Complete, accurate contact information.
. Access to background or historical information so they can put your press releases in context, either in the industry's or competitors' development.
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