Writing a winning media release
So, your media release didn’t get published. The first question you should ask yourself is – is it newsworthy?
Publicity is the most cost-effective marketing tool for entrepreneurs and start-up businesses. Positive media coverage can help build credibility in the marketplace. Mastering the art of the media release is the first step in achieving media coverage for your business.
If you want to use the media as a way to raise awareness about your service or product, you need to make sure your story is newsworthy. If it’s not, the newspaper will simply tell you to “place an ad”. Journalists quickly lose patience with people that try to sell them a story that is better suited to advertising.
What makes news?
In order to have success with your media releases you need to find the “news” angle. News is about an issue, event, activity, person or object involved in something that’s of interest to other people.
The importance of news is determined by four key factors:
News gets old very quickly. Ensure that your media release relates to something that is recent and that you’re aware of the journalist’s deadline.
2) extent of impact on other people
The more people the story has an impact on, the more likely it is that it will be covered.
3) relative importance
What other things are happening locally, nationally or globally that are going to impact your story?
4) available space
The editor will determine whether your story gets a run or not depending on what space is available in the paper.
Ideas for a news story
Make sure you don’t miss opportunities to create a news story. Here are some ideas to get you started:
- Launching a new business
- Introducing a new product
- Opening a new office
- Participating in a charity event
- Winning an award
- Achieving a major milestone
- Announcing survey results
- Announcing an acquisition
- Giving an informed opinion on a current issue
How to write a media release
Once you’ve decided on the topic, you need to make sure you can answer the who, what, when, how and why about your story.
Capture the reader’s attention by using a catchy headline. Keep your headline short and to the point but make sure it illustrates what your media release is about.
The first paragraph should provide the bulk of the information to the reader. An editor will make a decision about whether the release is appropriate or not by reading the first paragraph.
Next, include a quote from your spokesperson – it can be either the head of your business or a relevant third party who is knowledgeable on the topic. The spokesperson should be available to provide further quotes or information about the topic, if required.
Provide additional information that helps tell the story. Stick to the facts and use real life examples to help illustrate your story.
Keep the release short – one to two pages at the most. Make every word count and avoid using flowery language or hype which will make an editor sceptical about the information you are providing.
Finally remember to include contact information at the end of the release.
Distributing your release
Don’t broadcast your release to every media outlet. Research your targets to ensure that they will be interested in the information you are providing. They’ll appreciate that you’re not wasting their time by sending them irrelevant material.
There’s no guarantee that any media release will be published, but a consistent, professional approach will improve your chances.
Renee Hancock is a Group Account Director at Porter Novelli Melbourne. She provides public relations and strategic communications advice to corporate and government clients.