PR Tips | Writing An Effective Press Release
In addition to my work at Keybridge, I’m the publisher of Terroirist.com, an award-winning daily wine blog. So when I’m not at the office, I’m immersed in the world of wine — attending and hosting tastings, reading and writing articles, and browsing other blogs. One of my favorites is Fermentation, published by wine industry insider Tom Wark, a veteran wine marketer and publicist.
Last summer, Tom wrote a blog post detailing how to write an effective press release. While Tom’s focus was wine, the lessons are universal. So if you work in PR, it’s well worth reading.
The key takeaway? “The one thing that anyone writing, receiving, or reading a press release needs to be able to do is understand what ‘news’ is and if the press release contains any.”
Too often, public relations firms are guilty of sending out press releases devoid of news. When writing a press release, you must have a sense of what ‘news’ is — to journalists, not your client — and if the press release contains any. A good PR professional should be able to take virtually any story and make it newsworthy. All that’s required is creativity and media savvy.
Consider a fairly typical assignment for our firm, the release of a new think tank study. Let’s think about a few possible headlines:
KBC INSTITUTE RELEASES NEW STUDY ON MINORITY ACCESS TO HEALTH CARE
Is this news? Absolutely not. Think tanks release new studies all the time.
KBC INSTITUTE RELEASES “2012 INDEX OF MINORITY ACCESS TO HEALTH CARE”
Is this news? Again, it isn’t. If the KBC Institute has been releasing an “Index of Minority Access to Health Care” every year, then this is simply an update. It probably won’t receive much coverage.
KBC INSTITUTE RELEASES FIRST EVER “INDEX OF MINORITY ACCESS TO HEALTH CARE”
Is this news? We’re almost there. While this is certainly newsworthy for the KBC Institute, it probably won’t jump out at a reporter as any more valuable than any other think tank study.
2012 INDEX OF MINORITY ACCESS TO HEALTH CARE FINDS THAT XX% OF XX GROUP LACKS ACCESS TO CARE
Now we have news! A link between access to medicine and race confirmed by a think tank!
COLORADO HAS BEST ACCESS TO HEALTH CARE IN COUNTRY
Again, we have news. Journalists in Colorado will be thrilled when they see this. Sure, it might not receive coverage in Los Angeles, but it will receive coverage across Colorado.
As Tom concludes, “For something to be real news, it must have some measure of consequence that goes beyond the business or institution issuing the release. The ‘news’ in the release must impact more than a few egos. The ‘news’ contained in the press release must throw light on issues that go beyond the interests of those issuing the press release. Anything else is just a company update.”
His advice is spot-on. So when drafting a release, remember that the goal is to generate media coverage — and reporters are only interested in real news.