In February of last year our good friend Alexi Turbow began a 3 part blog post series entitled “Why The Press Release?“. We know you all have been on the edge of your seats waiting for the next installment, so here it goes!
There are many great step-by-step articles out there on press releases, but they don’t really help with understanding how to craft content in order for your release to actually get picked up by a journalist. In this article you will find the questions and ideas I like to keep in mind when crafting a press release.
The first thing to keep in mind is that a press release is NOT an advertisement for your company. If a journalist notices that it will most likely go into the trash. Journalists get hundreds of press releases each day, so they can normally spot a good one by the first sentence.
Is Your Story Newsworthy?
This is the first question you should ask yourself before crafting your press release. When your story hits the press, will anyone care? If your organization put out a study 5 years ago, you wouldn’t want to publish the findings now. However, if your organization put out a study last week people would be interested in hearing about it because it is timely.
Who is Your Audience?
The first person that will read your press release will be a journalist, so think like a journalist. Keep it short, simple, and to the point. DO NOT ADD FLUFF. A good tip is to also put a local spin on the story. If it’s a national story, add something that would peak local interest. If the story is international, add how it might impact the folks at home.
What Goes Into a Press Release?
Now that we have determined that the press release is newsworthy and isolated our audience, it’s time to put pen to paper, so to speak. The first thing you need is an attention grabbing headline, but make sure to not exaggerate, as that will most likely backfire. All your major information should be in the first paragraph, and throughout the press release, you should include hard numbers, facts, and as many quotes as you can. I personally like to keep my press releases to a one page maximum, but depending on the content, it is not a big faux pas if you go to two.
When it comes to crafting your content, there are many resources you can use for a little extra help. Check out these informative Forbes and Huffington Post articles. PR Newswire is another great resource to use to see what other PR practitioners are doing.
We couldn’t find much out there in regards to press release resources specifically for small staff associations so if any of you know of any, please let us know!
Stay tuned for our final installation of the Why the Press Release? distribution.