At the press release masterclass I ran last week, we looked a large number of press releases – good and bad.
One thing was abundantly clear. It is not just the content that is important in how successful it is.
The way a press release is laid out has a real bearing on how likely a journalist is to read it – and therefore how likely it is to be picked up by a journalist and to make it into the papers or onto the TV or radio.
So here are some tips on how to lay out a press release:
- Don’t use an old-fashioned or a quirky font. Go for a clean and simple typefacesuch as Arial
- Rather than using long paragraphs, stick to short paragraphs. A good tip is to start a new one for each new sentence
- Make it easy for the journalist. If your press releases is messy, with quotes, contact details, notes for the editor and additional info all scattered randomly across the page, the journalist will have to work too hard to find them, and may well give up before they find out what the story is.
- Don’t trying to be too clever. There’s no need to reinvent the wheel – press releases are generally set out in a particular way which journalists all understand, which means they know where to find particular pieces of information – Use the Traditional Press Release Format.
- Use a decent size text with 1.5 line spacing, and plenty of white space on the page. This makes it easy to read – tiny & closely written text is very off-putting
- Keep it short – ideally one or at most two pages; a summary of the key points with quotes and contact details is ideal. Some press releases would be better classified as white papers they go on so long. What reporter or editor has time to wade through pages of text?
Of course if there’s no story, then the best laid out press release in the world isn’t going to get your coverage. But in a world where journalists are sifting through hundreds very day, PRs need to do everything they can to make their story stand out and give it the chance of being told.
The workshop reflected Ann’s strengths. It was informal, friendly, open and at the same time she walked us through a structured understanding of what journalists are looking for and how the media works.
By the end of the half day, we had all written our own press release, which was quite an achievement as we all work in different sectors and were looking for a variety of media coverage.
I recommend Ann as a facilitator and Rough House for their courses. She is clear, supportive and enthusiastic. And she supplies yummy pastries with the coffee! What more could I ask. Thank you Ann.
Ann is extremely knowledgeable in her field and a mine of information. I attended her workshop this morning on how to communicate with the press and it was invaluable. She gave really useful, practical advice which you wouldn’t know unless you had worked in that field. Highly recommend her workshops – really good value for money.