Tuesday, 20 March 2012

Advice on Drafting and Issuing Successful Press Releases

Issuing a press release is the tried and tested method of generating noise and trying to get coverage in the media. They will not necessarily generate articles or extensive, in-depth features, but they are useful tools for announcing news and products, simply edited to extract the relevant information to generate news snippets or published in their entirety – which is often the case these days thanks to deadlines, online publications and websites.

The story, as with all media outreach, is the most important thing. Journalists are not mugs and can sniff out marketing waffle a mile off and quickly disregard it. All they want is simple, straightforward facts that will be interesting to their readers. Some companies may not even know that they have something highly interesting to say – it’s worth chatting to all employees to dig out these ideas and bits of news.

A successful press release, which will get beyond editors and journalists’ trigger-happy fingers hovering over the Delete button, needs to have a compelling and attention-grabbing headline. It should also include all the important information in the opening paragraph. You really only have a couple of seconds to interest a stressed, over emailed hack. It’s simply a case of adhering to the ‘who, what, where and when’ philosophy.

A major faux pas, and one of the major bugbears with journalists, is not taking the time to research and understand what the journalist actually writes about and for which publication. Targeting the right people and making sure the news is relevant to the intended journalist is paramount. And definitely make sure that the intended recipient’s name is included. Dear journalist or blogger is a sure-fire way of a release ending up in the Recycle Bin. Failing to understand any of these guidelines can quickly ruin the journalist’s perception of the company and can actually have a negative impact.

Attachments are also another major issue. It is amazing that some companies and agencies deem it suitable to issue press releases in a PDF format. Yes it looks nice and can include design elements but extracting text, as some of you may know, can be a burden. Journalists simply need to cut and paste any information or quotes quickly and easily in order to write a news story or upload it online. Making a journalist’s life as hassle free as possible is the best approach, so simply including the release in the body of an email is the best method. Attachments can quite often be blocked by spam filters and prevented from reaching the intended recipient.

Another element to definitely consider is imagery. Providing access to high-resolution images (300dpi is the resolution that magazines require for print) will also enhance the chances of getting the news covered – especially if it is a product. If images are not provided, editors and designers have to trawl through company websites or photo stock libraries for relevant images - another time-consuming aspect that they could well do without. In respect of the previous comment regarding attachments, images should, ideally, be hosted on a company website or uploaded to a FTP server with the relevant download links provided in the body of the email.

With a strong flow of news stories and interesting, relevant copy, editors and journalists will begin to keep an eye out for future releases, ask for further information and hopefully generate the coverage being sought.

For further information on press releases or for support in writing and issuing a press release please contact us on info@mccint.com.

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