How to create a powerful press release

thO1Z8IZY9What do you think makes an effective press release so that your story gets picked up by the local press? Something that’s worked for me and others is to help the local journalist write the story easily. About 70% of our local press coverage is directly taken from press releases. Local journalists are far more desk-bound with constant staff cut backs. The local press photographer is going the way of the dodo. So the more you do to help the journalist for instance by preparing a strong introduction with a powerful human story, an engaging quote plus a few landscape photographs – the better!

THE FORMAT: A POWERFUL PRESS RELEASE

Title/Subject line: Make it catchy. Remember it’s the local journalist’s job to develop the headline.

First paragraph/Introduction: About 28 words max, main point of story, tell it like a story. Grab the local journalists’ attention: put the main point of the story in the introduction.

Second paragraph: Expansion on introductory paragraph. Be informal. Tell the story as if you’re talking to someone. Avoid jargon and clichés. Keep sentences short. Be honest and try not to over-egg who you are.

Third paragraph: Strong quote, human, emotional.

Fourth paragraph: Further expansion on paragraph three. But there’s a common journalist’s joke that not many people read beyond the third paragragh.

Call to action: Link back to your website.

Your contact information: Make clear if it’s for the journalist’s benefit or for publication.

Notes to editors: Detail what you do.

Photographs: Ideally six/have a prize landscape Twitter one.

Caption:Including people’s names (left to right) if it’s a small group.

Word Count: 350 is normal length of a page lead (between 250-450). 125 words minimum for Google.

Good luck. If you want to know more, why not join us at our next media training event on Thursday 6 April 2017.

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How to get a journalist to love you

th9KKXI7FMPublic Affairs Tip: People love you if you make their life easier.

 

Sure some of you have been here before: twiddling your thumbs trying to think up a good plan to get some journalists on-side. Indulge me, let me give you the bad news first: there’s no quick fix. Patience and perseverance rule. The good news: there’s some things you can do to help journalists like you a little better. Here’s six to help get you started.

 

1/ Quickly respond to their queries. Enough said.

2/ Make their lives easier. Journalists thrive on up-to-date, concise and accurate facts and statistics; and newsworthy stories that sell. Like most of us they’re not super-human and can’t keep up-to-date on every issue. So they tend to depend on a handful of people or organisations that they can turn to and trust when they’re on a sticky wicket. Why not become one of their friends? Recognise the value of the statistics and stories that you collect; and why not think about pinning down and narrowcasting your expertise to a tight, target audience. What issues do you really know a lot about and which journalists would be interested?

3/ Send out useful, engaging press releases and e-mails. Journalists are swamped with them.

4/ Have a sharp press officer on the end of a line. Being over-reliant on websites and social media to get out facts, thoughts and opinions on the politics of the moment can be a tad risky.

5/ Have human stories at the ready. If you happen to be an alert charity or campaigning group you’ll have a good up-to-date “case study” database housing contact details of all those lovely people who have promised to support you by sharing their story with the media.

Last but not least:

6/ A picture launches a thousand journalists. Snap a great shot and get it out there. Fast.

Some useful stuff if you’ve found this interesting

AskCharity a free service designed to help journalists and charities work together.

Volunteer Genie on how to sell a story to a journalist.

Love to hear from you.

 

6 tips: how to build your media contacts

trustA local charity asked for help around how they could set up long-term, viable relationships with key journalists. The advice was simple:

Tip 1: Make their lives easier. Media professionals need up-to-date, concise and accurate facts and statistics. They can’t keep up-to-date on every issue, so they tend to depend on a handful of people/organisations that they can turn to and trust. Make sure you’re one of them. Recognise the value of the statistics that you collect; and pin down your expertise (what issues do you know alot about?)

Tip 2: Keep up-to-speed on the day’s news.

Tip 3: Respond to journalist queries quickly.

Tip 4: Journalists need stories. Any alert charity or lobbying group would have people available who’d be willing and eager to tell their story. Don’t under-estimate the importance of an up-to-date case study database.

Tip 5: Make sure you’re not over-reliant on websites and social media to get out your facts, thoughts and opinions on the politics of the moment. A sharp press officer is worth as much if not more.

Tip 6: Don’t waste your efforts on useless press releases and e-mails etc. with no news value. There’s no simple way of saying this: it will harm your organisation’s reputation.

Other blogs that might interest you:

making press release statistics sing

simply stylish: 11 journalism tips 

Do you have a media or public affairs problem you’d like solved? Why not leave a comment; or get directly in contact with me on 07966 369579.

4 tips on how to make your press release statistics sing

Producing press releases is part of the public affairs professional’s job. Here’s four tips on how to make the stats in your press releases sing.

1. Paint a picture with your numbers and statistics. If those 7000 people were holding hands how far would that stretch? How many caravans would they fill?

2. Help people put the figure in some kind of perspective. So you’re spending that amount of money, but what’s so and so spending on what – compare and contrast.
3. Try human angles with a twist. You have a new CEO who’s done this, this and this and has a talent for . . . singing David Bowie . . .
4. Put your key statistics at the end of the press release in an easily accessible, readable form.
Please do share. I’d be glad to hear any of your ideas on this. Why not follow me on twitter @businesses4good. Always here if you need a bit of help on 07966 369579.