Most journalists get hundreds of press releases in their mailbox every day. Most of those are put in the trash folder while only a handful actually end up in the news. These seven steps will increase your chances of capturing a journalist’s attention.
1 – Determine your message
The most important step to take before you start writing is thinking about what you want to say. Collect all the information, data, quotes, etc. relevant for your press release. After that, try to write your message in three to four sentences. Unable to do so? Start by telling your story to a colleague, Followed by writing down exactly what you told them.
2 – Write a strong lead
The result of all this thinking should be a strong lead. In other words: the “intro” to your press release, even though that’s not exactly the proper word. In fact, the lead is the most important paragraph of your entire text. It should contain the following information: who, what, when, why, where and how. Together with your title, the lead should not need any additional text to be understood.
3 – Use the pyramid structure
This means: always start with the most important message. Avoid working towards a conclusion by means of context and arguments, but commence with the most important information. Your main message should be in your first sentence. Later on, you can provide more explanation and further details.
4 – Go for strong titles and subtitles
Titles guide the reader through your text, so even those who only read the titles will still understand the essence of your story. Make the most of this: go for powerful titles, enticing and easy to understand. Write them like a newspaper headline, and make sure there’s only one message per title.
5 – Write eloquently
Succinct writing will make your text easier to read, and thus also clearer . Try to avoid unnecessary long phrases, passive constructions and a host of modal auxiliary verbs. Jargon also doesn’t work well in a press release. On top of that, try to find the rhythm of your text: mix between short and longer sentences. How can you tell whether your text flows well? Try to read it out loud.
6 – Add a boilerplate
This is a (reusable) paragraph at the bottom of your press release providing all the necessary information about your company in a nutshell. Think of turnover, number of employees, activities: all the basic facts, so to speak. By doing so, you don’t have to mention this in your actual text. A boilerplate increases the chance of the press always portraying you in the same manner.
7 – Finish it off with proper language and spelling
Journalists dislike language errors and sloppy writing. So, make sure to use every free online language source that will help you with almost any language question you may have. Below you will find the most important ones. Print your text as well, because you will notice errors faster on paper than on a screen.