By Cassia House, PR Account Manager
Whether you’re an experienced Press Officer with a lifetime of coverage under your belt or a small business looking to embark on your first media outreach campaign – writing a successful press release is a skill that requires careful thought and consideration.
Like anything, the more you do it the easier it becomes and there are processes you can use to maximise your chances of getting some great coverage at the end.
In this blog, we’ll share some of our top tips on how to write a press release, research relevant publications and develop ongoing content ideas.
So what makes a good press release?
Journalists are time-poor and can often receive more than two-hundred press releases per day! It’s therefore vital you make their job as easy as possible and only send through a press release that fulfils the right criteria.
Ensure your press release:
- Contains clear, compelling and direct language and factual and valuable information
- Does not use marketing speak
- Covers outcomes and impact and does not just focus on your business
The inverted pyramid approach
The inverted pyramid approach is a well-known, tried and tested formula for constructing a press release which can be a helpful template to follow for those new to the process.
Following this approach the ‘ Who, What, Where, When, Why and How’ should be covered in the first two paragraph as described below:
- Headline & first paragraph – setting the tone and providing essential information (try to stick to under 20 words for the first paragraph to make it punchy and to the point)
- Second paragraph – more details and relevant facts
- Third paragraph – add context and background including quotes and stats
- Conclusion – reiterate your main point and summarise what you’ve written, including relevant call to action and final points you want to get across
- Boilerplate – corporate information and contact details
Don’t underestimate the power of using quotes and relevant statistics – these help to add depth, human interest and credibility to your story.
Planning and strategy
So you’ve crafted the perfect press release, included quotes, interesting stats and a high quality image…. What next?
Deciding who to send your press release to is as important as what you write in it. It’s easy to get obsessed with wanting to feature in big national publications but it’s important to take some time to think about the publications that resonate with your audiences and what you’re trying to achieve with your media outreach.
If you haven’t already undertaken any media outreach research, this is key to identifying all the opportunities available and targeting the right journalists from the start.
Working with a PR partner will normally give you access to a reputable database of relevant and up-to-date journalist contacts and media outlets which can be accessed through targeted searches and sector-specific topics.
If you’re doing this alone however, you will need to undertake desk research via Google to identify the most appropriate publications for your business and the specific contact details of the journalists working there.
When undertaking this research find out:
- Which publications are writing about topics that resonate with your audiences
- What industry-specific media outlets exist
- What your competitors are up to (where are they being covered, what topics are they talking about)
- Specific journalists, bloggers and influencer details
- What forward features lists are available
- If spokesperson opportunities are available for key topics (offer your expertise and advise how you can add value – suggest topics and case studies etc. but be mindful it fits within their brand and with their audience profiles).
Content ideation & creative pitch ideas
Successful ongoing media outreach requires a carefully crafted PR strategy and content plan that highlights ideas for future press releases.
- Sales questions you regularly hear – you can safely assume it is a common pain point and something you could be addressing as a story idea.
- National themed days – an easy and underutilised planning tool which can work as a hook for B2B businesses. Just make sure it’s relevant to your organisation
- Human-interest stories and meaningful case studies
- Examples of a wider impact – not just your projects but your CSR initiatives too
- Newsjacking – hopping on the back of timely stories that link into a topical theme or trend
- Data outreach – stats, surveys and reports, either your own or existing data that you can analyse and reuse
- Pitching with topics and experts to save journalists the work – the more you can hand it to them on a plate, the better
Creating a monthly ideation and creative pitch ideas template can be a great way of capturing your ideas and plans for the year ahead and should include the focus for the month, media to target, timescales involved and other opportunities available to repurpose content.
To request a free Goldings Communications media planning template email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
More tips and tactics
There are many ways you can build your media outreach activity that doesn’t involve sending a press release.
Using Social Media – You can follow hashtags like #JournoRequest which is what journalists use when they are looking for a person to comment on a story they’re writing. You can respond direct to any call outs and the majority of amazing relationships with journalists often start in exactly this way
- Influencer lists – local and national – find a PR agency that also specialises in influencer marketing (e.g. specialists in your target areas) that may write blogs, share your content and widen your reach
- Paid services – Response Source, Gorkana or others – using Goldings to blanket distribute big news
- Monitoring coverage – Many PR agencies will have their own systems but you can also use Google Alerts to monitor your coverage and competitors
Meaningful PR takes time, and you need to do your research, pitch well, and present an interesting and engaging story that resonates with the outlet and journalist you’re communicating with.
It’s highly likely you’re sitting on some amazing stories and successes but have never thought to share these (or simply haven’t had the time). You don’t always need a well-prepared story from the outset, sometimes the best pitches are rough ideas which you can work with a PR agency to expand upon.
The good news is, there are some great resources and tools available to support you along the way, whether you’re working with a PR partner of going it alone.
Want to know more about our PR services?
If you’d like support on a media outreach campaign or perhaps some targeted training for your staff, feel free to get in contact and find out more about the different ways we can help. Email us on email@example.com or book a free discovery call here.