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We all dream of reaching our target audience through generating on-brand, on-message, relevant coverage in our key media. But if you want to generate purposeful press coverage for your business, first you need to master the art of writing an effective news release! Primarily, you need to refine your strategy when thinking about what you want to include in your story, ensuring you have all bases covered, and have featured the attention-grabbing details that will turn a journalist’s head. But how long should a news release be? And what information must you include? We have collated a step-by-step guide to walk you through the process of drafting a captivating news release! If you are more of a podcast listener than reader, please head on over to Episode 1 of Season 2 of our podcast, Revitalise & Grow, which is all about how to write and send a press release successfully.
The 5 Ws
Before you put pen to paper, clarify the 5 Ws for your story: Who, What, Where, When, and Why (you can read more about the 5Ws here). This handy tip will allow you to easily structure the introduction to your release. These key details need to be clear and attention-grabbing, and front and centre in the opening line of your first paragraph. This will give the journalist all the essential information they need to know handed on a plate!
Your release needs to be newsworthy
You only have a few seconds to grab the attention of your reader, so be clear about the ‘hook’ of your story. Your news hook should be at the heart of the release when you are drafting it. Think about the things you like to read, watch, and listen to in the media, and most importantly, what your target audience is engaged by. These newsworthy hooks usually revolve around topics or information that is new, surprising, or helps to solve problems. So, we would suggest it is worth asking yourself these questions:
- Is there anything ‘new’ in my story?
- Is there anything exciting or captivating about it?
- Will this be of interest to my target audience?
- What makes my news stand out from others?
- Will this hook the journalist?
If you are still unsure as to whether your story is newsworthy or not, have a look at your key target publications that you want your news release to be seen in, and get a feel for the kind of stories they typically cover.
An engrossing headline
As we mentioned in our previous blog about basic PR writing skills, professional writers will spend around 50% of their total writing time solely on coming up with the headline so spend some time brainstorming ideas! Thinking of a killer headline is essential to entice the journalist, and when your news release is published, then attracting the attention of the reader. Most journalists get hundreds of emails every day, so you really need to stand out from the crowd! Throw around a few clever ideas with your colleagues and peers, and get their feedback on what stands out to them. A short but sweet headline usually works best to attract attention to read your release, but you need to make sure it is relevant, and an opening to the story you are about to tell.
Grab that attention!
Although building curiosity in the headline is key, if your first sentence doesn’t grab the reader, they may not continue any further! Draft your top-line right at the beginning of the news release, as a summary of the story. When you are writing the rest of your news release, keep in mind that it needs to stay engaging, and should guide the reader through, building interest in every line. Remember each line needs to do its job to get the reader to move on to the next line. Having good quality images are a definite must, to illustrate your story and bring it to life. A great image can often mean the difference between securing a news snippet or a longer length feature so spend some time securing an impactful image to support your story. Bear in mind too that online titles often like to have video to support a story as well.
Keep it concise
The ideal length of a press release is about an A4 side or around 400-500 words. This should include around four or five paragraphs, as well as quotes and finishing it off with notes to editors at the end, for all image captions, business information, and contact details. If your story is more than two A4 pages long, you have probably included some unnecessary rambling that does not add anything to your story!
Outsource a professional
If you are struggling and wanting to call in professionals, do just that! Press releases are an incredibly useful way, when drafted correctly, to secure impressive coverage in the media, getting your brand right in front of your target audience. If you want us to take the burden off your hands, get in touch by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. You may also be interested in our Confident Communications Planning Package where we create a bespoke six-month communication plan for your brand that is easy for you to implement yourself.