Publicity ... How To Get Your Press Release Published.

By Paul Quinn, © 2003

In the last issue of our newsletter we provided a seven-step methodology to help your agency gain media coverage:

Step 1: Identify a niche
Step 2: Set objectives
Step 3: Identify your audience
Step 4: Decide what to say
Step 5: Develop a media plan
Step 6: Reach out to the media and send your release
Step 7: Measure the results

Included in the previous article was a list of media angles that might Tickle the Media's Fancy. In this issue we provide the do's and don'ts of release writing to increase the chances that your release will be published:

Do … grab attention with your headline
The headline convinces the reader whether or not they should bother to read on. Short, active, and descriptive headlines create interest.

Do … ensure key messages are consistent with your brand positioning
Ensure that the positive aspects of your brand are reinforced by the messages that you send to your audience through your release. For example, if your brand is positioned as a leader in providing innovative recruitment solutions don't send out a release that shows your agency providing a solution that has been available for years. Instead find a new angle that shows how your agency has added value to the "old" solution.

Do … put the most important information first
Get straight to the point in your first paragraph. Make sure you summarise your key messages up front because many people won't read beyond the first paragraph.

Do … include all the "5 W's and the H"
Your release should provide answers to Who, What, When, Where, Why and How.

Do … provide relevant, useful, and specific information
Consider everything you write from the reader's perspective. Ask yourself, 'Is this interesting, relevant and useful to my audience? Have I provided enough detail so my audience can easily visualise or understand what I'm writing about?' If it isn't useful or relevant to the audience change your angle. And if it isn't easy to understand then rewrite the release.

Do … substantiate benefits and other claims to fame
"We are the best …", "we are the biggest …" … claims such as these are easily made and just as easily dismissed by your audience. Substantiate each claim you make with facts. Use quotes, examples or analogies that show how people have benefited from the information, product, service or event.

Do … practice being concise
Use active language that is clear and concise otherwise you run the risk of boring your audience before you get your message across. So, avoid passive terms and speaking in the past tense.

Do … include a "call to action"
Ask your audience to take a course of action. For example, "for more information about the new workforce diversity initiative visit". If you integrate the call to action with a measurement program to monitor response rates it will further enable you to measure the success of your release. However, be sure to avoid making your call to action a blatant sales pitch.

Do … carefully check your article for spelling and punctuation
Your release should not add to an editor's workload. Indeed, in order for the release to be a win/win the editor should not have to do much at all. Certainly having to correct basic spelling mistakes in your release will not encourage the editor to run with your story.

Do … include contact information and a brief description of your company
The editor may want more information from you so remember to include your contact details and an invitation for the editor to contact you for additional information or an interview. And if someone else is going to be the contact person for the release make sure they know when the release has been sent and that they understand the key messages your organisation wants to promote.

Do … treat the media like a key client
If the media ask for additional information make sure you understand the date (and time) the information is required for and then deliver to this timeframe. If you fail to do this, it's unlikely you'll be given a second chance.

Don't … write an advertorial in the guise of a media release
There is a difference between news and an advertorial. Advertorials offer you an opportunity to be more blatant about selling your services. Make sure your release is newsworthy and that you remove any blatant selling.

Don't … write a press release longer than two pages
One page is best. If you haven't been able to summarise your key messages in one page chances are there are too many messages (you should limit yourself to 3-5 key messages) or you have not been concise enough in your explanation.

Don't … use jargon or acronyms
You want your audience to understand what you are saying so use standard English to communicate with them. Remove jargon or acronyms that could be confusing.

If you follow these simple guidelines your media release will have a better chance of being published. And the more positive media coverage you can generate for your agency over a sustained period the more aware your target audience will become of your brand.

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