The press release is an important publicity tool that barely costs a cent. However, a press release, especially a poorly written one, is easy to get buried among a huge number of emails coming to a reporter’s email box every day. I happened to find this old article “How To Write a Press Release, with Examples” by CBS Money Watch. I also read a very good guide to writing press releases yesterday: A Complete Guide to Writing an Effective Press Release. Those two articles gave me lots of insight into what type of press releases may get reporters’ attention.
From my understanding, the first thing we should be aware of is to write press releases with our audience in mind. A press release has a much higher possibility of getting covered if it is packed with stories concerning readers rather than business cliches. I had experience working in a newsroom before. Whenever I wrote a story as a journalist, I needed to make sure there was in fact a “story” worth covering. In that light, a same rule can be applied to writing press releases. We need to make sure there is a “story” that might interest journalists and their audience. The CBS article gave us an idea of what kind of press releases do have a story worth covering.
The second thing we need to pay attention to is target audience and target media. What is the press release about? Who will this release be most relevant to? What type of newspapers or magazines are more likely to cover this topic? Identifying the target audience and target media is a prerequisite to an appropriate use of language and content. For example, we should not put a bunch of terminologies in a press release sent to a local daily newspaper. I think a good strategy is to draft and send different versions of a press release to different types of newspapers or magazines.
One last thing is to have an effective communication with reporters. A follow-up call after emailing reporters press releases is desirable. Contacting reporters whom you want to cover the release personally is a good idea too. Besides, structure and style the press release in a way that makes reporters’ job easy. See A Complete Guide to Writing an Effective Press Release. If you have high-quality and publishable photos, send them with the press releases too.