Write like a journalist to get through to journalists: 8 things to remember when you write a press release

I’ve seen a lot of press releases in my 40 years as a journalist. I’ve also helped both journalists and brands understand how to communicate more effectively as a writing trainer for 30 years. When it comes to press releases I’ve learned that getting the right content, in the right order is the single most important thing you can do to get your product/brand/service in front of a journalist.

So here are 8 things to remember when you write your next press release.

 1 Remember that journalists are impatient

Journalists want the message right away. They respond to people who give them notes – specific information; quotes – pithy comments; anecdotes – stories that make the subject live for their readers.

2 Remember what appeals to journalists

Journalists are always looking for an angle. Spend time identifying the aspect of your material that will get them interested in your press release.

 3 Remember what journalists will want to know so they can inform their audience

Who? – players

What? – actions

When? – times

Where? – locations

Why? – reasons

So what? – significance

 4 Remember that you need a reason to send out a press release

Before you write a press release, you must be sure that you have something to say.

Ask yourself these questions:

Will the readers/listeners/viewers of the media you are trying to reach be interested in the information you are sending out?

Have you ever seen anything like it used before in your chosen media?

Can you imagine where it will be used?

If you cannot answer yes to any of these questions, RETHINK.

5 Remember that you don’t have long to grab a journalist’s attention

Your press release has only a few seconds to grab a journalist.  This is because journalists have their own agendas.  Equally important, journalists get a lot of press releases.  They will not devote the time to carefully read a press release in its entirety unless they quickly identify a compelling reason to do so.

A good press release tries to involve the reader; a bad press release presents information because the information exists. No attempt is made to explain why anyone should be interested in it.

6 Remember that you need to make your subject line work hard to grab the journalist

Journalists are busy, so you’ve got to grab their attention. That means you should keep your subject line short. Aim to limit your subject line text to 40 characters, then make the most of them. Treat your subject line like a headline. Get key words in early and aim to make every subject line unique.

7 Remember to write like a journalist

The structure of the press release is the same as a classic news story.  Get the order right: the most important points are at the top.

8 Remember the ultimate reader

Put yourself in the place of your potential readers. Think beyond the journalists.

Who is your ultimate audience?

What are they interested in?

Want more on PR writing? Buy our PR Writing elearning course or book a bespoke face-to-face session for your company.

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