Friday, 9 March 2012

7 tips for an effective press release

Press releases are windows to getting your story in the media. If your news is “newsworthy” and you are able to get it to the right media at right time, your news will get a decent coverage.

However, don’t consider sending press releases for trivial issues, it will hamper your credibility. Send press releases only when you have got something containing real news and important for the general public. While crafting a press release consider the steps below to make it effective.

1. Start with a bang
The headline should be interesting. Choose the right words that tell your story and keep in mind to keep the headline short and crisp. The first paragraph should tell the summary of your story. The following paragraphs can tell the details.

Remember to mention the 5Ws and 1H (what, why, where, when, who and how) of the story in the first paragraph, in short simple sentences.

Organise the information in an inverted pyramid form – with the most important information at the top. The reporters and editors generally lose interest in your press release after going though few paragraphs. So, if you put the major crucial content in the first few paragraphs, you will most probably get the bulk of your story in the next day’s publication.

2. Present the facts
Always tell the truth – never exaggerate your content. It might help you for the time being, but in the long run you will lose your credibility. If you have nothing exciting to share, don’t write a press release. Keep it aside till you have an interesting story.

3. Ensure your news is timely
Make sure that your press release is timely and has a good news hook. Tie your news to current events or social issues if possible.

4. Use active voice
Verbs in active voice make your press release lively. Rather than writing “entered into collaboration” use “collaborated”.

5. Avoid jargons and flowery language
Remember only you and your colleagues will understand the jargons within your organisation. Nobody outside your organisation will be interested or understand the jargons. Avoid the jargons. Also never use flowery languages and unnecessary adjectives.

6. Use quotes
Wherever possible, try to put quotes from concerned people to make your press release lively. Ensure that you have written permission before including information or quotes from the concerned people of other organisations.

7. About your organisation
At the end of the press release you must mention the name and full contact address of the person who is responsible for answering the queries related to the press release. Following it, as “Notes to the editor”, don’t forget to mention a paragraph about your organisation. If it is a joint press release, mention about both the organisations.

Besides the above points, on occasions, media outlets, especially online media, will pick up your press release and run it in their publications with little or no modification. Journalists, in most cases, will use your press release for a larger feature story. So, try to develop a story as you would like to have it told. Even if your news is not printed exactly as in the press release, a substantial amount of information will be picked up by the journalists.