A press release is the document format for communicating with media outlets. Media outlets want stories. All day, every day. Or let me put it another way: Media outlets need stories. They deal in stories. And they’ll make you, your brand or your organisation as famous as you want to be, is you can give them good stories.
But the stories have to be good. If you keep sending crap to media outlets, they may blacklist you, so it’s important to do it right. At Smart And Slick PR, we help people in many industries to build their brands and bump their profiles using PR, among other techniques and strategies. In this article, we’re going to discuss how to write a press release, but specifically how to write a press release that results in media coverage.
Before I talk about stories, I feel quite a few people will have found this page because they want to know the format for writing a press release. So I’ll cover that first.
The most important part of the press release. When you send your press release, in today’s world more than likely as an e-mail, the headline is the first thing journalists will see. And if it isn’t incredibly good, it’s the only thing they’ll ever see. The purpose of the headline is to grab the journalist’s attention and make them curious – so curious that they have to read the body of the press release.
At the top of the body, you need to specify a time qualifier. If your story is for right now, that would be “FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE”. If it’s for some time after now, “FOR RELEASE ON OR AFTER [INSERT DATE]”. This tells journalists when they can publish or feature your story.
The body of a press release should be just three paragraphs. In the first paragraph, explain the story in one or two lines at the most. What has happened? What is going to happen? Paragraph 2 starts with a quote and an elaboration. Paragraph 3 can include another quote and more elaboration. Do not exceed three paragraphs.
At the bottom of the press release you need to list your contact details, as follows:
FOR MORE INFORMATION, OR TO BOOK AN INTERVIEW CALL [NAME HERE] on [MOBILE NUMBER].
Now that you know how to format a press release, let’s talk about the real crux of this business – crafting stories that get picked up. This is where the skills and experience of a PR agency like Smart And Slick PR can really help. But if you’re not ready for that yet, I’ll give you a couple of pointers to get you started.
There are two parts to getting a story picked up. The first is writing a good story. The second is pitching it to a media outlet to whom it is highly relevant. They are as important as each other. A bad story will not be picked up by anyone. But you could write a really good story and it still won’t get picked up if you send it to a media outlet to whom it is not relevant. For example, the Yorkshire Post is hardly likely to pick up a story about something that happened in Wales unless the story somehow has links to Yorkshire. I’m sure you get the idea.
Now let’s talk about stories.
It’s important to note here that while we’re writing stories, we are also writing a press release, so they story MUST be based in truth. We cannot lie. So the trick is to wrap reality in a story type that works. Let me show you what I mean. I’ll share a couple of common story types with you.
The “underdog triumphs” story has been massively commercially successful in Hollywood for decades. People love to see and hear about an underdog winning. It’s very inspirational. You’ve probably seen the movie “Rocky“. Rocky is an underdog triumphs story.
“David Beats Golliath”
“Third Division Team Beats Premiere League Champions”
Any startup in any industry could use this. It’s an announcement that your startup exists and is going to somehow change the industry you’re in.
“The Revolutionary New Gadget That Will Change Life Forever”
I’m sure you get the idea.
Press releases are best used as units in a campaign. One press release may well get you featured in the media – it could even get you featured in a number of different publications within days of each other. But publicity as a strategy takes time. Consistent regular exposure is what, over a period of months or years, creates fame. And publicity campaigns require a lot more planning and consideration than a single press release does.
If you like the sound of being regularly featured in the media but writing isn’t your strong point or you just don’t have the time for all this, Smart And Slick PR would be happy to help. Get in touch today to see how we can help your business get known.