How to write a press release that gets noticed

Let’s look at how to write a press release for your product or service.

Really it’s a news release – today it’s probably more likely that your story will get picked up online or on broadcast media, so not just print (i.e. press).

Who’s your target customer?

The best way to start is always (if you haven’t done already), to figure out who your target customer is.

What do they read, listen or watch? Which influencers, bloggers and journalists do they listen to?
This will really help with the tone of voice you use (informal for consumer and lifestyle media, more business-like for newspapers and business columns).

Creating an irresistible news release is just one of the ways you can get media coverage. There are some definite do’s and don’ts you need to think about before approaching journalists with your story, so here goes!

The headline

This is your chance to capture the essence of your story and get attention for your email pitch. Remember that journalists and bloggers receive hundreds of emails a day, so make sure your story is relevant, timely, different, quirky, the biggest, the smallest, the newest.

Try to keep your headline 10 words or under for print; you can add more words if it’s
going online, which will help it get searched and found by Google.
Early in my career I remember a journalist doing some training and I still remember his example of a great headline (from a dog food business no less):
‘New dog food sales raise the woof’
See, even business headlines can be fun and this great use of word play got attention and coverage!

The first paragraph

Make sure all your story is in here. The who, what, why, when, how and ‘so what’ elements should all be included.
Say why your product or service is the newest, weirdest, biggest, smallest, most unique or different from the rest. What impact will it have on the readers/listeners/viewers? Why should they care about your story?
Have a look at newspapers to see how they fit all the story in the first paragraph.

The proof

Do you have any stats or facts to back up the story – why is it relevant and timely today?
Try looking for stats from the Office of National Statistics or YouGov that may back up your story idea. E.g. 78% of shoppers, 89% of millennials, 95% of office workers etc.

The spokesperson/people

Here’s your chance to use a quote from an expert (this could be you or an in-the-know third party) to back up what you’re saying and add a human touch. Remember to write as you speak here. If you have someone else willing to act as a spokesperson, you can use your quote and theirs to add credibility e.g. university professor / research specialist / analyst
/ influencer / blogger in your industry.

E.g. Rachel Clark aka the publicity coach, says: “It’s an interesting time for the publicity industry at the moment. We’re seeing massive growth for x y and z types of business and those agencies with online capabilities are definitely forging ahead.”

Notice I didn’t use capitals for my job title – even some of the national news pages don’t capitalise job titles as it slows the reader down (and we don’t want to do that do we?).

The price

Add any pricing details you need to include, with a clear explanation if needed and any important dates for offers ending that readers may need to know about. Also add in how people can get further information, where they can buy from etc.

Make sure you mention your national stockists or that people can buy online if you’re trying to get national media coverage.

The contact details

Add your contact details and any details of people available for interviews.

The editor’s notes

Here’s your opportunity to include any interesting facts statistics and background about your business that you feel might be useful for the influencer to know.

Do you have a podcast, have you won awards? Include any extras you need to in here.

Personalise your pitch

Always individually craft your pitch, or at least your covering note, for each media title (and their target audience) if you can.

This shows you’ve really researched them and also that your story will be more likely to get used as their readers / listeners / viewers will find value in it.

Do include your logo, but don’t bother formatting your release in a Word doc or in Pages as an attachment.

I usually just format it to look smart in an email, as journalists and influencers don’t want to have to click and open another document. It saves them times and this, as you’ll learn, is always a good thing!

If you want a pretty formatted PDF for your website, then feel free to do an official doc (but be mindful that pdfs don’t get searched by Google) – so you’re probably better off just adding in the text into your news feed or blog post.

I hope this has been a useful guide for you, let me know in the comments if you have any more questions. If you’re considering hiring a PR and communications agency to help you longer term, please get in touch.

Here’s to creating more clicks, calls and sales with your media coverage,

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