How to Write a Press Release

A press release is a presentation of facts designed to convince the media to cover your story. A traditional public relations method, it’s still very effective in building your profile and establishing you as a trusted authority in your field. If people have been reading about you in their local newspaper or your trade publication or website they will be more impressed by you and familiar with you than if they’ve only seen your advert.

But how do you go about it? In last month’s blog I explain what you should think about before you start to write. If you’ve done that and now know who you are writing for and what your angle is, then let’s get cracking.

Headline and intro

Pinpoint what the story you want to get across is and think about how you would explain it to a friend. You need to answer the what, who, when, how and why of your story. You need to put the crux of the whole story into one punchy, brief nutshell of a first sentence.

If you are struggling with the punchy bit, or encapsulating the gist of the story, I recommend writing the whole release then going back to craft your introduction and headline.

Expansion

The next few paragraphs develop the story by expanding the information, adding more details until the what, who, when, how and why is answered. Get all the crucial facts as high up the release as you can. This means that if your story needs to be cut down it can be done easily without losing any integral parts.

Quotes

Use lively and positive quotes from yourself or someone else relevant to the story to add colour. This is a golden opportunity for you to get extra information into the story as the journalist cannot change the quotes. So don’t waste them retelling something you have already mentioned.

Details

Journalists like details so include information such as where the people featured in the release live, their ages, and anything else of interest. When talking about your company don’t forget to briefly say where it is based and explain what it does.

Rules

Write ‘press release’ and the date at the top with an eye-catching, engaging title just beneath. You should write about 400 words and put ENDS at the end of the release. If your release is longer than a page put M/F (for more follows) at the bottom of the first page. Any photo captions, photo call invitations, and, above all, contact details go below ‘ends’ in a ‘notes to editors’ section.

Photography

If your story is publicising an event, include a photo call to photographers in the notes to editors with the time, date and location. Include a mobile contact in case the photographer can’t attend at that time and might want to set something up. For the same reason have your own photographer on stand-by in case the photographer doesn’t make it.

If you have a photograph that you own the copyright for that would accompany the release well, do send it. A good photograph will increase the chance of the story securing a prominent position in a publication or website.

Before you send

It is important when writing a press release not to assume any prior or specialist knowledge in the reader. If you’re commenting on a news story or local or industry development you must recap what this is in case the reader hasn’t heard of it. You must also avoid technical terms in favour of layman’s language. As a final check read the release through and pretend you know nothing about your subject or get someone else to read it for you. When reading you shouldn’t find any questions that aren’t explained, any incomplete facts, or any spelling or grammar errors.

If you’re happy you’ve done all this, you’re ready to send! My blog Dos and Don’ts When Sending a Press Release might help with the next step.

Datgan’s press releases are mostly published verbatim, so it might be quicker and easier for you to outsource.

Image by Pexels from Pixabay

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Things to Think About Before Writing a Press Release

I’ve already shared my Dos and Don’ts When Sending a Press Release, now I’m going to let you in on even more insider knowledge in the first of a series of blogs on this rather hefty topic. This blog covers things to think about before writing a press release, a companion guide to June’s blog: How to Write a Press Release.

What and who?

Before you start writing, think about what the story you want to get across is, and who your target readers are.

While all positive publicity is good, seeing a press release through its writing, placement and monitoring takes time – so think about who your target market is and prioritise. Write for your target market first and if you have more time you can always target other markets later.

For some publications, for example Saga, the magazine for the over 50s, the demographic of its readership is obvious. For others this information may be available on its website or by asking for a media pack.

Read the publications you’ve identified

Read the titles you want to be featured in to learn their house styles and individual reporters’ interests and contact details. Research national and trade titles online. Take note of deadlines.

What’s your story?

Don’t just write a press release because business is slow and you want some general coverage. Decide in advance on your story.

How strong the story needs to be depends on the publication. For a local newspaper if you live or work in their catchment area and you are doing something interesting, that is usually enough. A business opening, tick. A successful apprenticeship scheme, tick. Staff doing a parachute jump, tick.

For a regional or national business section or trade publication it needs to be bigger – taking on a significant number of new staff, reaching an important milestone, doing something innovative, offering useful advice to other businesses, commenting as an expert on a topical and relevant issue.

What’s your angle?

Find your angle. In a simple story, there will be one obvious angle. If you have a lot of information to get across or there are a few things happening, think about what is most newsworthy and start with that.

A picture tells a thousand words

It’s always good to supply a high-quality photo to accompany your press release, as it increases the chances of your piece securing a prominent place in your target publication.

If your story is about something that has already happened, send a good photo of the event with your release. If the release is not time sensitive, pay a photographer or get a creative on your staff to take an interesting, good quality photo to accompany it.

If you do all this groundwork you’ll be ready to get stuck in to writing, so please come back in June for How to Write a Press Release.

How to Create Content Even When You’ve No Ideas

To get the most out of your website and your social media marketing, you need to be sharing valuable and engaging content regularly. But how do you come up with content when the ideas just aren’t flowing? Here are four top tips:

Write about what you know

One of the hurdles of marketing your business to get over can be the inner critic telling you that no one is interested, or that you’re teaching grandma to suck eggs. But not everyone has your skills, experience and knowledge, and even if some do they will value your take on a subject they’re also interested in. So share and shine!

Planning ahead really helps

Time is in short supply, but setting some aside to plan your next month’s content can be so useful. It forces you to find something to say when you thought you had nothing. If you prepare as much as you can in advance and schedule accompanying social media posts, you can be raising your profile even while you’re run off your feet elsewhere. Like a squirrel storing nuts, when the Christmas season is in full flow you’ll be glad you wrote that blog on decorating on a budget in August.

The calendar is your friend

There are seasonal events and awareness campaigns that you can join in with as an opportunity to share some of your content. Not every event will be relevant to your business but there will be plenty that are. For instance a vet may share tips on soothing your pet on Bonfire Night, a decorator or florist can write a blog for Tree Dressing Day, an office may want to share why they’re taking part in Movember, and any self-employed parent can share advice on juggling the summer holidays with business. This is a really useful website for helping you plan your content, but don’t forget the seasonal events that everyone knows about, like Easter and August bank holiday.

Collaborate

When you really don’t have an idea or really don’t have time, why not offer one of your partners or associates a guest slot on your blog and ask for one in return? Doing this will expand your audience and strengthen your networks, as well as directing new traffic to your site.

And there we have it, four top tips for creating content…now get writing!

Datgan can provide you with weekly, fortnightly or monthly content depending on your needs. Get in touch to find out more.

 

 

Top Six Tips for Talking to Journalists

As a business owner you may have a piece of news you want to share with the media – from an event to winning an award, to sponsoring a school trip. If you’re nervous about approaching the press, here are my top five tips to help you:

  1. Journalists are just real people

Never feel intimidated by talking to journalists. Despite what you may have heard, they’re just real people! Their job is to write stories, so they will be happy enough to talk to you. However, bear in mind:

  1. Journalists are busy, overworked people

So be respectful of their deadlines and pick a good time to call – unless you have a real scoop for them. If their newspaper comes out daily in the morning, then first thing in the morning is furthest away from their deadline. If their newspaper is published every Thursday, then steer clear of Tuesdays and Wednesday mornings.

Also have a clear idea of what you want to say before you call and make sure you have all the information you need to hand.

  1. Take their advice and guidance

Essentially if you’re trying to get coverage for your business through the editorial pages rather than paying for the advertising pages, you need to have a news angle. If the journalist is telling you that what you’re trying to push is an advert and not a story, but they’re kind enough to say that something else you mentioned would make a story – then go with it. They are the professionals, if they say there really is no story then it’s time to call in Datgan, not to get shirty. Which brings me to…

  1. Be polite

Newspapers are private businesses not public services and journalists are professionals, not public servants. Obvious, right? You’d think so, but you’d be surprised how many business owners phoned me up during my career as a reporter making rude demands for coverage. Treat the journalist like you’d treat any other business contact. Maybe even read a few of their pieces first and tell them which one you particularly enjoyed. A good relationship with a reporter can be invaluable to your business.

  1. Don’t be too relaxed

It’s fantastic if you develop a good relationship with the reporter, but remember some key principles. Use positive language, don’t be drawn into commenting on anything controversial, and if you don’t want something attributed to you, then you must state that it is off the record before you say it.

  1. Follow up

If you’ve had a successful interview with a journalist, or sent them a press release they expressed an interest in, keep an eye out for its publication. If it’s not in after a week, ring to politely ask why. It may be there has been a busy news period, staff illness, any number of reasons. Keep in touch politely until the piece is featured, and it doesn’t hurt to phone or email the reporter afterwards to say thanks for the piece.

There we have it, six top tips for talking to journalists. If you still don’t think pitching to the media is for you, Datgan can do it for you. Clients always say I am approachable and easy to talk to, so what are you waiting for?

Have you planned your Christmas PR strategy?

If you’ve been to a supermarket recently you may well have huffed and puffed at the prominent displays of Christmas chocolate tins and cracker selections. “It’s only blooming October!” you may have grumpily mumbled under your breath at hearing Last Christmas piped through the speakers.

But retailers have to start planning for Christmas if they want to see a jump in their like-for-like sales in the run up to the big day.

Christmas also offers a golden opportunity for PR. As a former journalist, I know how quiet it can be for reporters in the Christmas period. Just like August, it is often a time where everyone is taking their foot off the pedal work-wise and enjoying time with their families. In other words, not a lot is happening.

Perfect timing for a PR person to come along with some lovely stories to help fill those pages!

If you’ve made your Christmas business plans and have any events to promote or cover, now is the time to plan your Christmas PR strategy.

Even if you think you’ve got nothing happening, Christmas is a great chance to write an article based around what you do. For instance, if you’re in counselling you could create an article giving advice on getting on with your relatives over Christmas. A children’s entertainer could offer tips and tricks on keeping the children amused.

Datgan is just bursting with ideas so please, let’s work together now to get your Christmas campaign ready. That way, when December comes you’ll be free to get on with what you need to do while we secure you some fantastic seasonal media coverage.

Is Your Money Saving Really a False Economy? It Can Pay to Splash Out!

image

This beauty, pictured chilling in my garden yesterday, is a Comma butterfly named because of the white ‘comma’ on its underside.
Commas, along with apostrophes, are commonly used incorrectly in writing. Do you know how to use them?
Every time you write a business communication you are saying something about yourself and your brand. Rightly or wrongly, if you have bad spelling or misuse punctuation some potential customers will think less of you for it and maybe move on to the next brand.
So what can you do? You could spend hours swotting up on grammar and spelling, or you could hire someone who already knows all about it to help. Startups and small businesses often think this extravagant, but the latest thinking on entrepreneurship maintains that you should spend as much time as possible doing what you do best. This is getting new customers and maintaining your current ones. Not checking emails and voicemails, ordering stationery, tidying your desk, fixing a leaking tap, or cleaning. Neither is it spending hours learning how to do something someone else could have been paid to do in an hour, just to save money.
Let’s say you spend six hours swotting up on grammar, writing and rewriting a letter or press release when it really isn’t in your skill set to do it. Not only is the letter or press release likely to be pretty ineffective, you’ve lost six hours where you could have made hundreds or thousands of pounds’ worth of business had you focused on what you do best.
You may be surprised at what you can get for even a modest budget. Your budget may not stretch to a copywriter to write all your communications, but it may stretch to having them proofread and edit things for you before they go out. It may pay for them to tweet and post to Facebook on your behalf, write a killer marketing letter, or just share some great advice.
Sending a clear, consistent message to your current and target customers is vital. If you struggle with writing, consider bringing in some help. Please do call me for a no obligation chat if you think I could help. Datgan – let us tell your story.