In recent weeks we’ve given you advice on how to strengthen your company’s online presence and what to do to help your business come up well in local searches. One of the ways we’ve touched on is to raise your profile in the media – but how do you go about it? One tried and tested way is to send a press release to your local newspaper – but how do you write one? Read on to discover our tips for writing a press release:
Target your publication
First and foremost – don’t use a scatter gun approach and send your story to every media contact you’ve ever found – that’s the best way to annoy a journalist. It works far better to target your story carefully. Identify the newspaper you hope to place a story with and familiarise yourself with their content. Ask yourself – what do they like to publish? If you’re targeting a weekly paper, learn what day they go to print and send your story a few days before this. If it’s a monthly magazine, try a couple of weeks before the print day. Also, find a named contact to whom you can send your story.
Is it newsworthy?
Before you write a press release ask yourself – is this story newsworthy? Why would your local newspaper want to include this? Why would they care? Is your story timely – does it fit in with other stories currently in the media? Is it exceptional or unique? Does it have a strong local or human interest element? If you’re having difficulty identifying a story, then think about the following themes: investment, improvement, performance, people and community – perhaps one of your staff has achieved something exceptional or you’ve gone the extra mile to support a local charity.
Short, clear and simple
Keep your press release short, clear and simple. Include a snappy headline and put a summary of your story in the first sentence – that way a journalist knows what your story is about straight away. Be sure to include the 5 ‘W’s and an ‘H’ in the first paragraph of the release: what, who, where, when, why and how.
Don’t use flowery language and don’t ever make claims that you can’t backup, phrases such as ‘record breaking’ and ‘industry leading’ are overused and a journalist will see straight through them if they’re not substantiated. Take a step back from the chatty language used on social media, and write more formally say ‘Darlington Plumber Joe Bloggs’ for instance, rather than ‘we’, ‘you’ or ‘I’. This way a newspaper could potentially pop your story straight into the paper without having to rewrite it.
Always write less than one page of a double spaced A4 page – four short paragraphs is ideal. After your overview in the first paragraph, use the second to elaborate on the story, give a supportive quote in the third paragraph and bring everything together in the fourth.
A word on quotes; when writing quotes make them sound like something you’d actually say – keep it plain and simple. Also, don’t add additional information in a quote; use them to support what you’ve already said.
Sending your story
Make it easy for a journalist to read your story, attach it as a word document, but also copy the text into the main email, as many won’t have time to open an attachment. Include the words ‘press release’ in the subject line, along with your headline. Be sure to include your company details at the end of your email, along with your website address and two phone numbers, including a mobile – so if a journalist wants more information they can reach you straight away. At the bottom of your release include a brief overview of your company for people who aren’t familiar with it, e.g., “Greenfingers provides horticultural services in and around the Darlington area” – as it will set your release in context.
There you have it, our guide to writing a press release and building awareness of your business, we hope you’ve found it useful. If you need help with your online marketing, contact our friendly team today.