Writing a Press Release
How to Get Noticed by the Media
Organizations of any size must promote what they do. Whether they want to highlight the launch of a new product, celebrate winning an award, or talk about employees who have raised money for charity, issuing a press release is a key way to gain exposure.
While it can often feel unnatural to "blow your own trumpet," the right kind of media attention can raise your organization's profile and reputation, and even help it attract new business.
If you work for a large organization, you might have a communications, press or public relations department to write press releases and manage media inquiries. If you don't, it's important to know what to put in a press release, plan how to make it attract the media's interest, and understand how to respond to inquiries.
You may also need to know how to issue one quickly in a crisis or emergency, or to counter bad publicity about your organization.
Deciding Whether to Issue a Press Release
At its simplest, a press release is a structured announcement about something that's about to happen, is happening, or has happened in your organization.
Before you start writing one, you need to think through four important questions.
1. Is It Newsworthy?
It may sound obvious, but the definition of "news" is that what you're writing about should be current and of interest to people outside your organization. So, you need to decide what is newsworthy about your story, or if it is newsworthy at all.
Press releases are read by journalists, who use them as the basis for their articles. They are probably not experts in your industry, so take a step back and think, "What are we doing here that's special and likely to interest people who read this blog or newspaper, or watch or listen to this news program?"
Imagine you've walked into a room and you have five seconds to make your "announcement" to a complete stranger, who knows nothing about what you do. What would you say?
2. What Do Journalists Look for?
How do newspaper and magazine journalists decide what to print? What do they look for, and how can you make your press release stand out from the many they receive every day?
Broadly, they look for the following four things...