Writing a media release is always a challenge. Sometimes, I have to convince others that the topic doesn’t even warrant a release.
When I do have a topic that is worthy of a release, I try to think about what would work best for the media.
One thing that hasn’t changed is the basics of a media release, which includes:
Strong headline: This is what reporters and editors see first so you want to make it memorable.
Strong lead: Focus on answering the who, what, when, where, why and how. Be sure not to bury the lead.
Strong quote: Add comments from key spokespeople, and make sure the quote adds value to the release.
Quotes can be a challenge. Often an individual wants to provide input for the quote, but what is offered is lengthy and doesn’t add anything new to the story.
Ann Wylie, who frequently provides writing tips, offered a PRSA webinar about writing media releases. Here are three tips to write better quotes in your releases from Wylie –
- She stressed that a quote ideally be one sentence and contain 20 words or less, plus attribution.
- To make quotes stand out in online stories, she suggested creating a quote rail by moving the quote off to the side of the article. If a release has long quotes, Wylie suggested removing them and using them to create a blog or a tweet.
- Quotes should not include clichés. Words such as pleased, excited, proud, thrilled and delighted should all be removed from releases, Wylie said.
I cringe to think how many of those words may be in my releases. I’m going to go back and review.
After hearing the presentation, I issued a two-part challenge to myself –
- Use only one-sentence quotes as often as possible.
- Avoid the clichéd words that often appear in releases.
Anybody else want to join the challenge?
When you are driving in your car following the directions from your navigation system and make a wrong turn, the system immediately alerts you that you have gone off route. Then the system says it is “recalculating.”
Quickly, you are back on your way headed to your destination.
The other day when I heard my system say this, it struck me that I need to be as flexible in my life. I had lost my rhythm with my blog. I also had missed an accountability meeting. I was frustrated.
Then I decided to recalculate, or, recalibrate. Here’s how I did it:
Reviewed my goals. Whether personal or professional, it’s good to have goals. Mine are written down, and I review them routinely. I spent an hour looking at my goals and determining where I had made progress and where I still needed to make progress.
Developed a timeline. I looked at my goals and recalibrated how I could reach the goals and by when. I readjusted deadlines and also set interim deadlines.
Scheduled time. Now that I have reviewed my goals, I needed to block time to work on them. I scheduled two-hour and four-hour blocks on my calendar and what I am going to accomplish in those blocks. It’s amazing how much you can get done when you know you have a set time period on which to work on your goal.
Celebrated the victories. I met with my accountability partner the other week, and while I was not as far along on my writing as I would have liked, I had made a list of what I had achieved. When I saw the list, I was encouraged that I had made the progress that I had. It was good to see it in writing.
Get an accountability partner. I’ve written about the importance of an accountability partner. Knowing I have an upcoming meeting encourages me to spend the time working toward the goals I said I would. I don’t want to waste her time, and I want to have something to show since the last time we met. My accountability partner helps me to stay focused on the things I have said are important to me.
For years I had a Twitter account but never did much with it. In the last few years, though, that has changed, as I have found it to be an invaluable tool to help with media relations.
Twitter is useful in several ways. You can use it to –
Conduct research and learn what is trending. When you are on Twitter you can see what reporters are covering and what are the current events. You also can discover the relevant hashtags.
Respond to reporters. Not all reporters put our requests for experts via Twitter, but there are many that do, and I try to follow reporters who cover the sector in which I work.
Amplify your reach. Once I have sent a media release, I always share it a few times on Twitter. If a reporter writes about my organization, I will tweet the story and acknowledge the reporter.
Talk about your business. You may have lots of great content on your website, but if no one knows to go to the site or where to look the information, it’s not helpful. Tweet about the content and include a short link to the content.
Pitch the media. If you aren’t getting any traction reaching out to reporters via email or with a media release, try a tweet. When I’ve done that, my stories have been picked up by outlets I was not aware of and I was able to get more coverage of a story.
This post is adapted from a workshop Cynthia teaches on using Twitter for media success. If you are interested in having her present on this topic or others, including crisis communications, personal branding or media training, please contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.