Learn the essential elements of how to write a press release (AKA media release) and how to make it something a journalist wants to read
Media (also known as press) releases are a document provided to media to give information, context and background to whatever it is you want them to write about.
For this episode, Allira Carroll from Tonic PR joins me to talk through the essential elements of a good release, why you should always include a quote and what makes a great headline. Plus, we discuss our 12 tips for making it something a journo wants to read.
WHAT IS A MEDIA RELEASE?
It's a carefully crafted document summarising key information - who, what, when, where, why and how - about your subject/product/brand in a compelling manner. It accompanies the tailored pitch you would send to each journalist. It is not a dot-point of facts.
WHAT ARE THE ELEMENTS OF A GOOD RELEASE?
A heading that makes you want to continue reading the release
A punchy opening paragraph summarising the most important points you're trying to communicate
Ideally, it should be no more than one page and consist of about four-five paragraphs. Only go to two pages if you have information that is essential to include
Paragraph three or four should be a quote from a spokesperson
Finish off with the contact details of the person who can facilitate more information, images or an interview. Make sure that person is available to respond when the release is sent out and isn't on holidays!
“Journalists often don't read past the first two paragraphs of a media release so make sure the most important information can be found there”
Listen to the full episode on The PR Pod podcast for more tips and insight on writing a media release. You'll also find this episode on your fave podcast players, just search "The PR Pod".
12 TIPS FOR WRITING A GREAT RELEASE
Don't repeat your heading in your first paragraph. Be creative and use the heading as an opportunity to capture your reader
The quote is prime real estate. Journalists will often lift the quote and use it within an article so keep aside some important information to be used there. E.g, don't waste your time writing something like "we're so excited to launch our bar". Instead go for something like "with more than 300 tequilas, we'll have the biggest collection in Australia."
Most of the time, it is the PR writing the quote for the spokesperson to approve/tweak so you can choose what information you'd like included. Just make sure it's written in the style of how someone would speak. You can afford to be more personal and emotive here
Try and keep your sentences to about 20 words - you want to make each word count
Read news articles in respected publications and take note of their structure. Articles start with a catchy headline, are followed by the most important information and finish with the least important. It's the same with a media release
Use your key messages as the base of your release. Those four-five messages will essentially be the framework for your four-five paragraphs, with some additional padding in there
Paint a picture for the journalist about your product/brand/venue. You want them to feel like they know how it smells, feels, sounds and looks. So, be emotive but don't use hyperbole
Always use third person, except for the quote
Do all your research before you attempt to write the release
Read the sentences aloud in your ahead to ensure they flow correctly and you're using punctuation in the appropriate places
Ask for the deadline for when your manager needs the final, approved version and give yourself enough time to write it. It's going to take you several hours on the first attempt, then you should sleep on it and come back to it the next day with a fresh perspective before it gets submitted to your manager for their first review. And it may take multiple drafts to get it right! So we're talking a few days between you starting to write it and it being perfect.
You won't be expected to submit an A+ media release on the first draft but you will be expected to check your spelling and your grammar. No excuses
If you're not sure what a good media release looks like, ask your manager to provide you with some examples so you can start to get the feel for what is expected. And practice, practice, practice! If there are no media releases due to be written for a while, ask your manager to give you one as homework.
If you need a recap on writing key messages, check out the Crafting Key Messages episode here.