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How to write media releases that get noticed

On the face of it, writing a media release sounds like the easiest thing in the world.

But writing a media release which will command the attention of the press and get your service or product noticed requires skill and strategy.

Get it right and your company can enjoy some quality exposure and as a business owner or manager you can begin to build a relationship with a journalist which could prove invaluable to your firm in the years to come.

Get it wrong and you will find that your business news will never see the light of day.

So what will grab a journalist’s attention - and what sends a media release to trash?

What's your story?

The starting point for creating a press release is to identify the story you want to share.

Your company could be sponsoring a local sports team, opening new premises and creating jobs or your staff could have raised thousands of pounds for charity. The possibilities are almost endless. However if a journalist does not see the news value in your release but instead views it as a thinly-veiled attempt to get some free advertising, then your email will be going straight in the bin.

So it is important to grab their attention. When journalists are in training, there is a simple trick many are taught to help develop their news sense, which can be applied to media release writing.

Imagine you were telling your story to a friend in the pub. Where would you start? What's the most important detail that you want to get across? This is the starting point for your release.

Writeme can help ensure your press release is as comprehensive as possible, making sure that the what, who, where, when, why and hows are all covered.

Having all this information in the release to begin with will make life a lot easier for an overstretched journalist who is trying to tame an overflowing inbox. Plus it will make it a lot more likely your story will be picked up.

Do your research

If you've got some news to share, the temptation is to send it out to everyone.

However you will vastly increase your chances of having your media release picked up and turned into a story if you spend some time researching the publications which are the best fit for your business, aimed at your target audience and cover the sort of story you are trying to push.

Targeting a selection of carefully chosen publications can yield better results than what is sometimes referred to as ‘spray and pray’ marketing tactics.

There are a wealth of possibilities out there - national, local and regional publications, business to business magazines, niche publications - and Writeme can help you identify the best ones to target.

If a publication does not cover the sort of story you are trying to push, then it is probably best not to waste your time - and theirs - by sending it.

Once you have settled on the publications you would like to target, spend some time researching the best person to send your release to.

Sending it to a specific reporter, especially if the journalist has a specialism such as business, science or health for example, is preferable to sending your release to a general email address where it may well get lost in a flood of other news.

Building a good working relationship with a journalist can prove incredibly beneficial to your business in the long run. But to start that relationship on the right foot, whatever you do, remember to get their name right!

Other things to consider

The tone of the media release should be friendly and approachable, but it should stay professional.

Depending on your target audience, and the type of publication, it is worth considering whether your media release requires loads of technical jargon. Writeme’s professional writers have a wealth of experience in tailoring the tone of the release to your audience and translating complex concepts and technical jargon for a variety of audiences.

As part of doing your research, it is essential you find out what the deadlines are for the publications you are sending your release to. If you send it too late, you will miss out on press coverage. But it also doesn't pay to send it too early. Timing is crucial when it comes to hitting the send button.

Don’t forget to provide contact details on the media release in case the journalist has any follow up questions or requires more information. Make sure you are available and easy to get hold of in the event of any follow-ups.

Think pictures

Sometimes not enough thought is given to pictures when it comes to sending out media releases.

A good picture can help a news story to stand out on a page or draw wandering eyes scrolling through Facebook, particularly if the image is humorous, dramatic or unusual. If you can send a selection of different photos, even better. It is great to have a choice. A good picture could mean the difference between your media release making a lead story or a small filler tucked away in the back pages.

One side note about pictures - always make sure you have written permission to use the photos you are sending and that they are accredited to the correct person. There is nothing which will sour a relationship with an editor more quickly than if they suddenly find themselves slapped with an invoice from a disgruntled photographer for using their work without permission.

What to expect next

Once you have sent your engaging, tightly-written media release, with an attention-grabbing headline and some striking images, it is just a matter of waiting.

A brief, friendly phone call to ensure the release has reached its intended recipients is acceptable. A gentle follow-up email after an appropriate amount of time has passed is also acceptable. But don’t hassle a journalist any more than necessary. When they are up against tight deadlines and awaiting important phone calls, repeated calls and emails do not go down well.

And finally, it is really important that you manage your expectations. Although this is a good guide to helping your business score some press coverage, there could be a myriad of reasons why your story is not picked up.

Remember, you are trying to forge a long-term working relationship with journalists and media representatives. Make an effort to become known for providing strong, well-written news that is offered to journalists in a supportive fashion to make their job easier, and you will achieve your desired press coverage in the long run.

Need help with your next media release?

Writeme can help; we write media releases, media kits, editorial, and much more that will help your news optimise its chances of getting noticed. 

We will help you identify a news worthy angle that is tailored to the print, tv, radio or online news outlet you are targeting, and develop a professionally written release in journlaistic format that makes it easy for your contact to read, distil and reproduce. 

To get the ball rolling get in touch with a member of our team on 01 906 5114.

 

 



 

 

 

Grammar and punctuation tips for business report writing

Business report writing is a balancing act between formality and keeping your audience interested and awake. None of us want to wade through boring, monotonous text, but certain conventions apply in business writing.

Using good grammar and correct punctuation are two of them.

Let’s take a quick look through some of the most common grammar and punctuation mistakes and get you on the right track to excellent business report writing.

Before we go any further, we need to define the term clause, as we will be using it throughout.

To be classed as a clause in English, a piece of text should have a subject and a verb, but not necessarily form a complete sentence.

So, let’s begin.

Bullet points and punctuation

When using bullet points, there are no set rules, which is part of the problem. Do you use capitals, full stops, a colon, or a semicolon? The principal aim is to get the information across in an easy-to-read format. Be consistent and it's okay. Some simple guidelines to follow are:

  • Use a colon to introduce the bulleted list.
  • Only use a full stop if the points form a sentence.
  • If you have over four or five points, use a numbered list instead.

If the points don’t make a proper sentence, using capitals, or full stops is a styling choice. Just be consistent throughout the report.

Semicolons, when and how to use them

The use of a colon, semicolon, or comma often causes confusion. The acid test for a comma is that the sentence should flow. Colons are used to indicate a more decisive break between related clauses, while semicolons occupy the ground between a comma and a colon.

British English and American English writers have differing opinions on its use, but there are some guidelines to follow:

  • If you were reading the sentence aloud, the semicolon would be a good point for taking a breath.
  • The semicolon joins two independent clauses that relate to the same subject or idea.
  • A semicolon is used when a full stop would be correct, but it upsets the sentence's flow.
  • Never capitalise the first letter following a semicolon, except when it would usually be a capital, such as proper nouns.

The mysteries of commas

It's possible to write a complete book on comma use alone. The basic premise is that the sentence should flow naturally, with the comma joining two related clauses separated by a coordinating conjunction.

One common misconception is that a comma is always used before the conjunction "but." We are often taught this rule at school, but the comma is only used when joining two independent clauses.

Commas play a considerable role in the meaning of a sentence and can produce a hilarious result if left out. A very well-known example is "Let's eat Grandma” versus "Let's eat, Grandma."

The Oxford comma

An Oxford comma is a particular use of punctuation, also known as a serial comma. In a list of three or more items, it goes before the conjoining “and.” For example, the flag of the United Kingdom includes the colours red, white, and blue. The use of the Oxford comma is to avoid confusion and ambiguity.

To capitalise or not, that is the question!

Obviously, there are some occasions when you don't have a choice, such as proper nouns or the first word of a sentence, but what about other times? There's quite a long list, actually, but it also depends on the style guide you follow. Some examples:

  • names of days, months, and holidays
  • most words in titles except conjunctions and prepositions
  • historical events or periods of time
  • the first word of a quote
  • nationalities and languages

Such as:

  • days: Monday, April, and Christmas Day
  • titles: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time
  • time: Middle Ages
  • quotes: "Life is what happens when you are busy planning."
  • languages: English, Swedish

Are you into or in to something?

This is a widespread error, even for native speakers of English. Into is a preposition: a word that shows a relationship. In this case, it is defining the relationship of something being inside something else. For example, "I put the dishes into the sink."

In and to are also prepositions, indicating a relationship, and often find themselves next to each other in sentences. For example, “I called in to say hi”, or “I logged in to your website.”

Collective nouns – it’s or theirs?

Its and theirs are pronouns that associate ownership to a noun. The choice of using "its" or "theirs" depends on the noun it is referring to.

So, for example, “Aardvark Trading offered all its employees a bonus.” We use “its” here as it takes the place of the singular item, the company name.

If the subject was plural, we would use theirs, for example, “The managers gave their employees a bonus.”

Contractions in business writing – good or bad?

Often the use of contractions will depend on the context and the audience. In general, it's not used in formal writing except when space is limited in a table, for example.

Having said that, it also depends on the style guide you are following. Often exceptions are allowed if the sentence sounds awkward and stilted without the contraction. Some style guides will instruct you to rewrite the sentence to avoid awkwardness.

In general, it is okay if used sparingly.

Some points we've discussed above are set in stone, but many have different interpretations. For business writing, you will often be required to follow a style guide, which will help you find the right level. If not, then assess the audience you are writing for and adjust your style to match.

Why your organisation needs a style guide

Language has the power to inspire, influence and create change. 

The way we use language is an essential component of brand building.

What we say, and how we say it, contributes to the development of a brand’s personality and sets it apart from the competition. Importantly, contributes to shaping stakeholder perceptions.

Many organisations invest considerably in the development of brand components such as a logo, corporate colours and imagery, yet might not think about how their organisation “speaks” to its stakeholders until there is a problem.

A corporate style guide provides clarity around your organisation’s language use and provide consistent communication that your stakeholders can trust.

What is a style guide?

A style guide is a formal document that details the writing principles that underpin your organisation’s communication.

It gives your employees and external consultants a blueprint for writing and shows them what language to use and how to use so that it aligns with your organisation’s brand voice.

A style guide is a key component of your organisation’s branding guidelines. Just like your graphic designer will rely on the guideline’s principles when using your logo, colours and typography, a style guide is relied upon to develop on-brand written communication.

Is a style guide really that important?

A style guide is like any roadmap that helps achieve a particular outcome.

Most importantly, a style guide helps both your teams and your external agencies and freelancers to achieve consistency, regardless of who is writing what. It helps to avoid your organisation coming across as if it has a number of different personalities which can quickly erode your credibility and dilute your message.

A style guide also helps to prevent causing unintentional offence, providing clarity around terminology and language use to ensure your communication is bias-free and inclusive.

What goes in a style guide?

Typically, a style guide will provide a range of rules for “what you say” in your written communication, such as:

  • specific words and terms
  • technical terminology
  • jargon, slang and acronyms
  • grammar, punctuation and spelling
  • hyphens, abbreviations and bullet points
  • capitalisation and special characters
  • numbers, dates and times
  • British or American English
  • examples and writing tips


A style guide also provides direction for tone of voice, the “how you say it” component of your writing.

Tone of voice is inextricably linked to your brand’s personality, and reflects whether it is outgoing, fun and friendly, or more conservative and informative.

Importantly, style guidelines must show the user how to adapt tone of voice to match the context and stakeholder’s mindset.

How should you use your style guide?

A style guide is used across all types of communication, from website content, social media, sales collateral and video scripts to editorial, report writing and customer service support.   

It provides your internal teams plus any external agencies, or freelance writers or editors with a clear set of rules and examples that can be applied consistently across your communication.

It means that anyone can pick up your style guide at any stage of a project and develop on-brand communication.  

It should form part of your wider branding guidelines document and be treated as a living document that develops in step with your brand and the wider environment.

Need help to develop your corporate style guide?

Writeme can develop corporate style guidelines tailored specifically for your organisation, with real life examples that help your teams and external agencies apply your communication rules with ease.

Get in touch with our team on (0)1 611 1563 to get your corporate style guide underway.  

The Covid clichés driving your readers crazy

While much of the world has been relegated to the confines of home for the pasy year and a bit, the same can’t be said for the English language.

Covid-19 has spurred averitable explosion of new words, terms and phrases to describe, explain and communicate the nature of the disease, how it acts and what we need to do to escape its clutches.

Terms like super spreader, shelter-in-place and self-quarantine have become part of our daily lingo and were, until a relatively short time ago, the type of language we ame to expect in a sci-fi novel or Hollywood blockbuster.

Yet after a tough year, and a grisly winter where grocery shopping was pretty much the highlight of our week, we are all looking forward to that proverbial light at the end of the tunnel and ditching as much Covid baggage as we can.

Infuriating Covid words and cliches are at the top of that list; here, we share those that send our editors into a spin. 

New normal 

“New” being the key word, and relevant in the first half of 2020, but not at this stage of the pandemic. Resist the temptation to use this hackneyed phrase in 2021 to avoid eye roll emojis from your audience.

 

These are strange times

Granted, the first few months of the pandemic were surreal. Yet as we donned designer face masks with pride, hoarded porridge oats and made scented hand sanitiser at the weekend for fun, “strange” began to feel a little, well, judgy.  

 

We’re all in this together

While certainly a lovely sentiment, it can ring hollow for those the pandemic has disproportionately affected. Just ask the 200,000 seafarers stuck at sea amid quarantine restrictions, or the countless others who have fallen on harder luck. 

 

Times have changed

You don’t say! If your aim is to patronise your reader, by all means, use this one.

 

Cocooning

There’s no doubt about the importance of this term but thanks to some pretty brilliant scientists and a history making vaccine, this is one term we can declare redundant. Unless, of course, you’re partial to hanging out in a chrysalis.

 

Hope you are keeping safe.
Enough of the pandemic email icebreakers; may we never have to do covid small talk again.

 

Not sure how to communicate at this stage of the pandemic? Give our team a call on  01 906 5114 to discuss your project, we can set you on the right track. 

5 travel experiences to enjoy post-Covid

For most of us, it has been many months since we last boarded a plane and jetted off to exotic climes.

With travel restrictions and quarantines brought in due to Covid-19, much of the fun has been taken out of travel.

Although now the nights are long, the temperatures plummeting and coronavirus continues to make its presence felt, many of us are dreaming about our next big adventure.

So whether you are a foodie, an adventure-seeker or sun-worshipper, here are our top five suggestions for your first post-Covid vacation. We hope you find something on our list to inspire you!

Save the turtles in the Seychelles

For animal-lovers and fans of exotic sandy beaches, a trip to the Seychelles to help with a turtle conservation project sounds like the ultimate dream holiday.

The project is based on Curieuse Island which is described as a ‘true tropical paradise’ - and it is hard to argue with that sentiment when you are living in a hut on a stunning white-sand beach!

As well as studying the nesting success and habits of both hawksbill and green turtles on the island, there is also the opportunity to enjoy some of the glorious natural beauty in the mangroves around the island and go snorkeling in the crystal-clear waters to see first-hand this unique underwater world.

What’s not to like about this dream trip?

See the Northern Lights in Swedish Lapland

Take a snowmobile to the outskirts of Luleå, the heart of Swedish Lapland, away from artificial light pollution, for the best chance to view the Northern Lights.

Adventure-seekers can also enjoy dogsled touring with purebred Siberian huskies, covering miles of frozen lakes and forest, or don a pair of snowshoes to listen for wolves on a night-time trek.

If you feel at home on a pair of skis, you can enjoy gliding along illuminated tracks in the majestic forest.

There is also the chance to stay at Lapland’s first African safari-influenced Sami-style camp.
Despite the temperatures dipping as low as -12.9 degrees, sleeping in these stout tipi-like structures looks both incredibly warm and comfortable!

Treat your taste buds in Slovenia

Foodies could do a lot worse than head to the Balkan state of Slovenia as it has been named European Region of Gastronomy for 2021.

The country won the title thanks in part to its emphasis on local ingredients including salt harvested from Adriatic salt pans, honey made by native bees (urban beekeeping is popular here) and ingredients foraged from Slovenia’s plentiful forests.

Regular food tours around capital city Ljubljana showcase the best traditional dishes from the region, as well offer an insight into the gastronomical history behind this beautiful country.

And of course no visit to Slovenia would be complete without a trip to famed wine region Maribor, home to the world's oldest vine, and some of the best white wines you will ever taste.

Learn to salsa in Cuba

Dance is an important part of life in Cuba, none more so than the salsa, a sizzling expression of oneself. Salsa originated in the streets of Cuba, so where better than to learn this most energetic and enjoyable form of dance?

Afro-Cuban music is also part of the country’s identity, with music spilling out of the bars in capital Havana, offering tourists the chance to shake their hips and enjoy a taste of some of the finest rum in the world. If rum is not your tipple of choice, Cuba is also the birthplace of the mojito!

Although it is a popular tourist attraction, a visit to the open-air nightclub Cabaret Tropicana comes highly-recommended. Located in a lush, six-acre estate tropical garden, Tropicana has been entertaining the masses since it opened in 1939.

However, there is so much more to Havana than its lively nightlife, including the city’s architecture and revolutionary history. And who doesn’t dream of cruising down the Malecón in an open-topped classic car?

Get close to a volcano in Costa Rica

There are more than 200 volcanic formations in the Central America country of Costa Rica.

Today only 100 show any sign of any volcanic activity and thankfully only five are classed as active volcanoes. All hold a deep and lasting fascination for visitors.

The Arenal is perhaps the most famous of all Costa Rica’s volcanoes, widely regarded as having the perfect volcanic cone. Sitting in the midst of the Arenal National Park in the north of the country, it was the most active volcano in Costa Rica, regularly sending hot gases and steam into the atmosphere up until the end of 2010.

Although the volcano is the main attraction, there are other activities for the adventurous traveller to enjoy, including hiking through the lush rainforests or windsurfing on the stunning Lake Arenal.

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