Friday, October 26, 2007

Brass Tack #3 - Press releases are still popular with journalists... least, well-written and well-presented press releases that make their lives easier. No-one knows the exact number, but the destiny of something like nine out of ten press releases is shredder-fodder. Journalists receive so many that only the best will get considered.

Bear in mind that busy journalists have short attention spans. If your press release fails to convey its potential for a good news story within the first few lines, the chances are that the journalist will not read further. There just isn't time. And there are too many other press releases clamouring for attention.

It’s therefore surprising how many badly written, poorly presented press releases that don’t have an interesting story to tell are still sent to newsrooms. Reduce your chances of rejection by presenting your story in a simple and well-organised press release that contains all of the following information:

  • who you are
  • the date of the story
  • the date (and if necessary, the time) that the story may be available to the public. Most stories are for ‘immediate’ release, although a story could be ‘embargoed’, i.e. you request the news organisation not to publish it until a certain date and time. Most journalists respect embargo requests.
  • a headline (but look out for Brass Tack #4)
  • the story itself (I'll make further comments on this in Brass Tack #5)
  • full contact details to enable them to follow up your story and ask you questions (Brass Tack #13 will say more on this)
  • additional and background information not necessarily for publication but will be useful for the journalist to understand your story better (Brass Tack #18 will say more on this)

The Aimhigher Practitioner website provides a good set of guidelines on press releases. So does Taurus Public Relations.

Filed under:
media relations      news release       press release      journalists


Pete Wilby said...

Mark Hodson, travel writer for the Sunday Times, claims he doesn't like press releases and prefers emails. So yes, there are always exceptions to this Brass Tack but press releases, if correctly formatted, should provide enough basic material to interest a journalist without getting lost in the inbox.

Hodson wants PRs to give him his own exclusive angle through a story specially tailored for him. But at least with a press release, journalists can work out how best to present stories for their own particular readers.

Horses for courses.

Pete Wilby said...

Whoops - wrong link. Try this one.