Every day, reporters are bombarded with press releases. Some are immediately deleted, others may end up in a reporter’s “tickler file” for future reference, and some are acted upon right away.
Because reporters are busy, one way to get them to follow up on your press release is to do their job for them. Press releases should be written with not just the reporter in mind, but also the reporter’s audience.
Many of the press releases I write often end up being published without being edited on various news websites, so when feasible I write them in a way that tells a story.
For example: When John Smith needed to take time off from his job to recover from surgery for a hernia, he was worried about how he would keep up with mounting bills. He heard about ABC nonprofit through his local church and contacted them. After going through the interview process, Smith received a $5,000 interest-free loan, which allowed him to focus on his recovery.
It reads like the lead to a story and makes it easier for a news outlet to publish as is, or for a reporter to pick up the ball and run with it from there. I am not saying every news outlet will use your exact lead, or even publish the release in full, but it does give them a good idea of how they might approach your story.
In those instances where you may not have a human interest lead, it’s important to quickly spell out why your news is relevant and important and what kind of an impact it has. For example: Thanks to $30,000 grant awarded by ABC nonprofit, three Florida research groups have been able to successfully obtain critical state and national funding to further their investigational efforts.
Just as important are quotes contained within the release. Avoid industry jargon and buzz words that mean little to the average person and add nothing (but more words). Sentences such as “We are incredibly excited about the opportunity” or “This new partnership will bring great synergies,” are to be avoided.
When possible quotes should evoke emotion. For example: “If I had not received the loan, I would have had to return to work too soon and might not have healed as quickly,” said John Smith.” “It took the pressure off and allowed me to concentrate on my well-being.”
This explains why receiving the loan was significant to this man and a reporter could easily use it in their story without having to interview the recipient.
If the release lacks content that evokes emotion, then think about a question a reporter might ask about your product or service and then answer it in a quote. For example: “Many people may wonder how our product came about,” said Sally Jones. “As a new mother, I knew how important it was for all new parents to get much-needed Z’s. …
Last, but definitely not least, make your headline stand out from the clutter. A few examples:
For a company that is offering products specifically for Father’s Day
ABC Company Doesn’t Care About Your Mother
For a cleaning company
Yes, Our Mother Knows We Talk Dirty
For a nonprofit fundraiser
Our supporters raised hell and we raised $1 million
You get the picture. One word of warning, it’s important not to be too cutesy because in some instances it can backfire. It’s always best to know your audience and if necessary adjust your headlines to fit.
Susan R. Miller is founder of Garton-Miller Media, a full-service, South Florida based public relations firm. Susan is a former journalist with more than 30 years of experience. In addition to public relations, she provides web content writing, press releases, social media, photography and videography. She has two daughters, three golden retrievers and two cats.
Garton-Miller Media is a full-service, South Florida-based public relations firm. Founder Susan R. Miller has 30 years of experience as a writer, journalist and PR professional.