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Press Release Writing - Tips That Get You Noticed

Aug 17, 2007
To get your client noticed, the publicity writer must be able to write a press release that grabs the media's attention and makes them want to learn more about what your client can offer their readership. A press release is a publicist's introduction to the media. It's their way of showcasing a business, individual or organization's message to the community.

Press releases can be used in two ways:
To entice a print reporter, broadcast journalist or radio host to cover the story and conduct their own interviews.

As a stand alone article used by print publications to fill space not taken by staff writers.

The Press Release As A Pitch:
Both are valuable tools used to spread the word about a client. But, writing a good press release that will grab the attention it deserves takes a special knack. It offers more than standard marketing or sales writing, but less than true news or feature coverage. A press release aimed at convincing a reporter to do their own story on a person, business or organization in the community, is nothing more than a teaser of fun facts aimed at generating enough interest to get the reporter thinking of ways they could make the story stand out on their own. This type of press release should not be written with the intent of using it as is, but more as a way to help the reporter see the value in what's being offered.

Standard information that should be included in this more straight forward piece are: the essential who, what, where, when and how of the client; a brief description of what makes this client and its services stand-out or benefit the community; unusual facts and figures about the client; and the role of your client in a broader statewide, national or regional arena. Try to make it interesting, but don't do all the work for the reporter. Your goal here is to show him or her the potential for a story - not to give them a story.

The Press Release As A Story:
Another type of press release is the article-style release. When using this form, it's important to remember that the publicity writer is doing all the work in order to offer a completely researched and accurate article that is ready t be printed. Again, try to avoid making it sound like a biased sales pitch. Write like a journalist who's looking at all the angles of the story and backing up their claims with significant facts and figures. This type of press release is especially welcome at most smaller local newspapers and trade magazines who may not have either the staff or budget to cover your story.

Things Every Press Release Should Contain:
While both types of press releases discussed above are written for a specific audience, with a different goal in mind, there are a few important things every press release should contain:

- A short but lively title - this is the writer's first chance at grabbing the editor or producer's attention.
An interesting lead (complete with any unusual or interesting facts).

- A succinct overview of thing you are trying to publicize presented in the formal pyramid style (most pertinent info first and so on).

- An information line with a contact phone number or website a the end.

To ensure that you are presenting the client in the most professional and newsworthy way possible, remember to also:

- Be succinct. Never ramble, and keep press releases to less than two pages.

-Be accurate. If you aren't sure about something, find out. Never put any unsubstantiated facts in a press release.

-Keep it simple. Never try to fluff the piece with fancy paper, fonts, layout, etc.

-Be friendly and helpful. Offer to help set up interviews, gather statistics, and organize photo opportunities for the reporter in charge of covering the story.

Writing press releases that grab an editor's attention requires skill and an understanding of what the media is looking for. Learn to give them that and you'll find yourself on the media's call list the next time they need an expert source for a story they're working on.
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