You’re firm has been awarded a large project, or a building you’ve worked on for two years finally opens to the public. You and your team are excited and anxious to share the news with your clients, prospects and colleagues. You’re asked to put together a press release.
Press releases aren’t rocket science, but there’s definitely a difference between one that gets coverage and one that finds the trash can. First, let’s review: A press release provides information to the media with the objective of reaching the public via news coverage. There are great formatting suggestions available on the internet, but here’s five content basics that might help your news see ink:
Make it Newsworthy - There is a difference between a newsworthy event – one that is timely, important, interesting – and an announcement which is basically “for your information.” Announcements generally don’t make good articles, so are much less likely to be published. If you’re merely trying to get in the Calendar section of your local paper, an announcement may be appropriate. Otherwise, approach your topic from the readers point of view, always asking yourself, “So what?” For example:
“ABC Architecture announces the opening of Small Town Library!” (so what?)
“ABC Architecture’s new Small Town Library opens on Friday featuring expanded collections and quiet areas, a light-filled third floor gallery exhibiting local artists, the Bird’s Eye Treehouse for children’s puppet and theatre performances and the BookNook Cafe and Terrace offering al fresco seating throughout the summer.” (this sounds interesting…I’ll have to bring the kids!)
Five Fast W’s - The opening paragraph should answer the five W’s – Who, What, Where, When, Why. Get clear on the answers to these before you start writing your release. Ask the questions and draft some answers on a scratch piece of paper, if necessary. Missing one? Get creative and figure a way to work it in. Having this information up front clarifies the objectives of your press release quickly and succinctly – what editor wouldn’t appreciate that?
Stats, Quotes and Images, Oh MY! - Use one or all of these in your release to punch up it’s credibility and printability. Simply put, statistics quantify clearly. Which has more impact
“Brooks and Smith wins another elementary school project.”
“Leveraging an enduring relationship with District 27, Brooks and Smith wins it’s fourth school project in Small Town in five years.”
Fairly obvious which is stronger, yes? You get it. Similarly, quotes offer authority to your release and humanize the story. Quote the happy client, the first group of school kids to experience your new children’s museum or a staff member who is thrilled by the expanded public access and efficient layout created by your renovation.
Photos, along with graphs, charts and diagrams are a great way to visually communicate the story or to punctuate a particular fact. Images sell papers and improve search engine ranking; including them can be the feather that tips the scale and puts your story on page one.
Be the Author – Do your editor a favor – write your story exactly as you’d like to see it printed. Media is a fast paced business and if an editor has to sort through information or work at composing a piece about your news, it probably won’t happen. Write a great headline and dynamic lead paragraph, keep it pithy and meaty, offer a quote, an image and quality links and make the editor’s job oh-so-easy.
Acknowledge Change - While print media is still relevant, it is no longer the major source of news and information for most people. The Internet changed all that. Today, you need to approach a press release much like you would a blog post you’re seeking hits and comments on. Be sure to feature a provocative headline and use SEO tools, links and media to increase interest and activity. Finally, publish the release to online sources.
Follow these tips and you may see your news in print. What press release strategies have worked for you?