HOW TO WRITE A MEDIA RELEASE
Everyone in PR will write a media release at some point – and for most that point will come within the first week of a new job.
Whether you're a new graduate, or someone coming into PR from a different industry, writing a media release can be a bit daunting. You're not just promoting a product, or even representing your client, and their brand, you're also representing your firm and the director who hired you.
A good firm will give new team members training, and support, reviewing releases before they go out to clients (and then out to the media), making corrections and suggestions about how the executive can improve their writing.
Writing a good media release is not easy – it's not just about writing, it's about communicating, and to do that properly you need to understand your proposition, your audience, and, most importantly your client and their long term business objectives.
While a media release may sound like a simple announcement, when written well, it goes beyond the initial news line, and is part of a greater strategy – helping increase a client's market share, enhance their reputation, and build their brand.
Media releases are therefore one of the foundations of PR, a snapshot of what you are doing, and of what we can do to help.
If you're getting into PR and are looking for expert tips, or if you're thinking about hiring a PR firm, and wonder what a good media release should be like, here are a few points to consider.
Ten PR pro tips for writing a good media release:
1. Work out what you want to communicate. If the brief is vague, it's your job to work out the best line and how to get it across.
2. Consider who your audience is. You should be writing with the aim that a news organisation can send your release straight to pages if time is tight. Your first audience, is however, the news editor, or journalist who receives the media release. Think how they communicate and make your release relevant for them.
3. Write your headline. Aim to make it sound like something you might read in a newspaper or online. Subject + object + verb is a good start. This means you have to think 'action' which is good, because news is all about action.
4. Learn the basics. If you can't spell, buy a dictionary or use spell check. If you don't know the difference between 'your' and 'you're' then you're probably in the wrong job. Typos happen but good editing should eliminate most problems.
5. A company is usually singular. This means everything you write about them should agree. e.g. XXX Ltd is launching a new product, not XXX Ltd are launching a new product.
6. Write short sentences with one or two points per sentence. Don't add in too many clauses otherwise you risk making sentences illogical. Once you lose track of your subject strange things end up happening to it.
7. Quotes should work as sound bites, allowing your client to communicate the best part of the story directly with the audience. Always aim to include the company name in a quote to help ensure it gets mentioned if that's all media choose to use.
8. Be consistent with the way you introduce clients, set up quotes etc. Be specific about job titles e.g. Eglantine Pink, Managing Director, Pink Frowning Ltd, said: “I'm delighted Pink Frowning has been chosen to sponsor 'How to Write a Media Release'. Poor media release writing can give PR, and the clients who use it, a bad name. Writing better media releases is in the interests of everyone.
9. Check house style of your agency for how to write numbers, dates etc. It's common to spell out numbers up to 10 and use figures for anything larger. If you're sending a release to an American publication don't forget they write dates with the month first followed by the day, while British media do it the opposite way round.
10. Make it easy for media to open your release e.g. text in the main body of an email is simple, while a PDF document allows you to include a logo etc. Journalists don't want to waste time extracting images from files so send a couple of JPEGS (one or two MB) which can be used online, with the option of high res files if the journalist requires them.