Why your organisation needs a style guide
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.
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.