Current thinking within the PR world seems to be that the trusty old press release is in need of a re-brand, but the fact remains that it’s still a vital tool for PRs and businesses trying to get news out.
If companies like Apple and Facebook still use them, then they must still work.
As a journalist, the first question I would ask a PR trying to pitch a story was always: “can you send me the press release”, so that I could see the story in black and white.
During my years working on newsdesks I rejected thousands press releases after a cursory scan of the first few lines (and my apologies now to any PR people whose work ended up in my bin). With some journalists receiving 600 emails a day, you can see why I didn’t have time to read them in detail.
Anyway, this taught me just how important it is to make sure your press releases are well written with eye-catching headlines with a great story in the first paragraph.
However, the headline and introduction aren’t the only criteria that will determine whether or not your story will make it on air or into print.
You need to make sure you can you answer YES to the following questions:
- Does the release contain proper news (and not a shame-less puff)?
- Have you answered the key questions: who, what, where, when and why?
- Have you included quotes and offered interviews with key members of staff?
- Is your press release less than two pages long?
- Have you remembered to attach pictures or offer filming opportunities?
- Have you done a spell and grammar-check?
- Are your contact details correct?
PS: How do you think press releases should be re-branded? At the moment, my vote’s going to ‘News Release’.