One of the most powerful weapons in the public relations arsenal is surely the good old press release.
However, handle it wrong and a press release will at best be a complete dud and at worst cause you more harm than good, tarnishing the reputation you’ve spent so long building up.
So, how do you know that your press release will be effective?
The easiest way to have complete peace of mind is to use a reputable PR consultancy with proven results and a great track record as they’ll be able to tell you if the story – and angle you’re taking – will work or will turn around and bite you. But we would say that, wouldn’t we?
Nowadays we know that not every business is in a position to have a great agency at their shoulders, but if you follow our pointers you should be able to make it work for you.
1. Can you sum up the story in one exciting sentence?
If you can, great, start with that and then expand on it. If not then pinpoint why. Is the story too complicated? Perhaps you’re trying to include too much or looking at it the wrong way – Man Bites Dog is always a more interesting story than Dog Bites Man.
2. Now you’ve written one great sentence, can the rest live up to it?
Always ask yourself, is this really news? Will the man down the street want to read about it? If not you’ll be much better off putting your efforts into finding another angle or a completely different story.
3. The five Ws
This always takes me back to school English lessons, but it’s just as important nowadays. The first questions a journalist is going to ask about a story is who, what, where, when and why. If you can’t answer them or include them in the release, stand back and ask yourself why.
Journalists want to know who said what. If you haven’t got a quote, it’s likely that you’ll be asked for one if it is a good story. If it’s not a good story then without a quote it will fall even further down a journalist’s list – and possibly off it.
Do you have a photo that goes with the release? It’s the old ’a picture is worth a thousand words’ that rings true here, so if you haven’t got one to hand it’s worth spending a bit longer finding one that to go without.
6. Contact details
Who should someone go to for more information. Make it easy for a journalist to make it a bigger story by making your contact details clear.