Tips for Writing Press Releases in Today’s Digital Universe

By Andrew Blum*

The press release isn’t dead. It keeps evolving as the media universe changes. Here are some tips and things to remember when writing releases.

  • A release needs to be concise and snappy. A reporter may give it a few seconds to decide if he or she looks into a story or hits delete. Make sure your headline and email subject line grab attention.
  • Use multi-media in your release: jpegs, video links or graphics to add pizzazz to text in the release. A video link helps especially .to attract TV news attention and social media.
  • Avoid overused buzzwords and marketing jargon.
  • Don’t put the kitchen sink into the lead or elsewhere for that matter. The purpose of a release is to get the media’s attention. You can give them more once they want to do a story.
  • Make sure the release is suitable in tone and length for paid newswires and social media. Also, think SEO.
  • It may be obvious, but make sure the people quoted in the release are available for interviews the day you distribute it. Also obvious: make sure the PR person named as the contact is available and reachable by land line, cell and email.
  • Remember in writing a release to include the 5 Ws – who, what, when, where and why – to tell the story. Add any human interest where possible.
  • Streamline your release approval process and try not to let the message get diluted by too many chiefs offering edits. Have the final proofread. Read it one last time for typos.
  • It’s worth repeating that the media today is a fractured place with smaller newsrooms but more online presence.  While they’re often swamped with releases and generally don’t run puff, if you give them a timely release with a good angle and well-written quotes you give your release a chance to get play.
  • Finally, make sure you have actual news. Sometimes a PR person tries to pass off something old as new. Not so fast. That’s why they call it a news release.

*Andrew Blum is a PR consultant and media trainer and principal of AJB Communications. He has directed PR for professional services and financial services firms, NGOs, agencies and other clients. As a PR executive, and formerly as a journalist, he has been involved on both sides of the media aisle in some of the most media intensive crises of the past 25 years. Contact him at ablum@ajbcomms.com or follow him on Twitter: @ajbcomms

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