So You’re Going to Write a Press Release..
We all know that Public Relations is a field of persuasion. And, that the golden rule of writing even before asking your mom to edit, is to consider your audience. So as PR professionals, what should we consider when writing a press release? How do we persuade our audience to write about who we represent? The answers are actually pretty simple. When writing your press release take into consideration both the language used and the audience the press release is intended for.
The chief tenant of news or press releases is one which you probably already know, but must be reiterated. It is to write a great headline. Journalists get hundreds of emails a day, and if the headline isn't descriptive or enticing, your press release is quite possibly going to the trash without being opened. Imagine your headline as a very important tweet, it has to be short, unique and attention-getting, but also easy to read and free of industry jargon.
Use language and titles that don't perpetuate stereotypes. While you may be tempted to make a splash or appeal to a specific audience when crafting your press release, your list of media contacts is probably pretty diverse and you could up offending someone. It may seem simple, but ask yourself as you write, could anybody read this and be just as thrilled about it as me? If you aren't sure about the answer, you may want to reconsider, because if your writing rubs someone the wrong way, it won’t be considered for further attention.
Present information clearly and efficiently. With the ultimate goal being to get journalists and the public interested, be conscious that the language you are using isn't too dense, or full of technical jargon. The email shouldn't be difficult to read, and the main idea should be apparent within the first two sentences, using the traditional inverted pyramid rule. Journalists will make judgments quickly, so it is to your benefit to present information efficiently, explain why the news is important, and avoid braggadocious statements or exaggerations. Try to keep your press release to under 500 words. Remember, while it is a journalist’s job to research and report the news, they are under no obligation to read your press release and report on it.
Be professional and courteous. I don’t just mean to use spell check and avoid using all caps. Do a little research before sending out your press release to your media contacts. If the time can’t be taken to specifically address someone by name, and make sure they cover a relevant beat, you aren't making a good case for yourself, and it can do your company’s reputation more harm than good. If you really want to get published, make it apparent that your contacts weren't spammed, and that they have the opportunity to write about something that not everyone is covering.