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August 8, 2012

Top ten tips for writing a press release

Most of us working in the marketing communications sector understand the importance of writing a news release, especially those of us that work in a PR Agency but does everyone get it right?

There are lots of dos and don’ts that you need to master to get the maximum amount of coverage.

From my university studies, working in a PR Agency and searching around the internet I have learnt that different journalists have their own individual pet peeves, so really it’s just about finding what works for you. Here are my top ten tips to get you started.

  1. Mobile Number– ‘Always put your phone number somewhere instead of hiding behind an email address‘, as journalists may need information quick and not have time for emails.
  2. Catchy title – The title is the first and may be the only thing that the journalist reads before deciding to read on. Journalists tend to say to leave out the company name, and any unnecessary words. Just leave it snappy and to the point, it will most probably get changed anyway. Use the title in the subject box (email), if it’s right it will get opened.
  3. Introduction – try to keep it to 25 words. If you can’t summarise the story in less than 25 words then maybe you should rethink. Is it news worthy?
  4. Jargon – Avoid it as much as possible. ‘If you fill it with techno-babble and jargon you are limiting your audience’. ‘Please, tell us in as plain a language as you can, what your client and their product does’.
  5. Quotes – Every release should include one, ‘The more interesting your quote the more chance it has of being used’. Also ‘don’t quote people who aren’t available for interview’, the reasons should go without saying.
  6. Your audience – Think about the most relevant, ‘make contact with industry specific websites and publications who will already be interested in your company’s dealings’.
  7. Photos – ‘Editors/reporters/journalists all want their publications to look good’, Supplying good photos maybe the difference in your story being used or not. Don’t ‘fob people off to a website where they then have to spend ages finding images that you should have found for them’.
  8. Facts – ‘Only present information that is true, correct and doesn’t elaborate anything that to be communicated’. Facts are also important to make your releases interesting and useable.
  9. Spelling and grammar – ‘ typos and grammatical mistakes distract the journalist’s focus from your story and make you look unprofessional’. So it’s important to check and check again.
  10. Try and keep it short – Some people say ‘No longer than a side of A4′. Having all the information on the first page is just convenient for the reader, obviously editors notes may spill onto a second page.

These are just some of the main points that I came across, please feel free to let me know if this helped you and to suggest any others that you can think of in our comments.

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