Many reporters are seeking jobs as public relations practitioners. It’s a natural transition because for years they covered news, which means they know what is of interest to reporters.
Writing a press release, though, isn’t like writing a news story. And since the media is bombarded with hundreds of releases each day, how do you make your release stand out?
Here are a few tips to keep in mind:
Write your release about something that people are interested in. Ask the question, “Why should anyone care?” Make sure the release has some news values such as timeliness, uniqueness or something truly unusual. Focus on the aspects of your news items that truly set you apart from everyone else. Just because your organization thinks it’s newsworthy, doesn’t mean that it is.
Start strong. Most reporters don’t have to write headlines, but when writing a press release, it’s the headline that grabs attention. It must be clever, unique and to the point. Then write a strong opening paragraph. You have seconds to grab your readers’ attention.
Write with a point. Press releases need to be about only one topic. It must be focused. What is the message that you want to convey?
Write tight. Reporters tell the whole story, but when you write a press release, you can’t do that. The goal of a press release is to get the media interested and then respond to ask questions. A long press release will not be read. Ideally, releases should be one page.
Write and then rewrite. A good reporter rewrites his or her story and then same holds true for those who write press releases. Write the first draft and edit it. Have someone else read and edit the release. Be especially critical of the first few paragraphs as they are the most important to the story. Often it is the only part of a release that the media uses.