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?