Obtaining positive press

This week we thought we would turn our attention to the humble (but nevertheless important) Press Release.

 Part of any multi-approach PR campaign, the format of the press release and its purpose can often be misunderstood.

So, let’s start with the format.  The idea of a press release is that it imparts news of a story or an event and lets the reader know the key details of what has happened (or, indeed is happening / about to happen) in a journalistic style.

Taking a moment to think back to some of the lessons in school, we need to think about the essential elements of presenting the information – namely Who? What? When? Where? And How?

Whilst at RDZ we may spend many hours, and exercise many braincells, on the topic of differentiation and helping businesses stand out from others in their field, when it comes to press releases there is an expectation that the format will be fairly standard, and this is as follows:

  • Name and contact details of the writer
  • An attention-grabbing headline
  • An introductory sentence to give a flavour of / summarise the main body of text, normally in around 20-25 words
  • Location of the event and date at the beginning of this initial paragraph (as relevant)

The content itself is always written in the third person and should answer any basic questions a reader is likely to have, without falling into a full-on sales pitch.  The inclusion of quotes and reference to sources is also encouraged to add depth to what might otherwise be fairly flat text.  There will be an expectation to get some level of company information (this could be related to location, main activities, size etc.) and there should also be a call to action at the end of the piece, but care must be taken to ensure that it is not unashamedly promotional otherwise it is more likely to be rejected at a very early stage.

When crafted and polished, the press release in sent to targeted members of the media in the hope that it will spark an interest of a journalist, editor or perhaps even a blogger.  The piece may not be copied in its original state and is often just a starting point to allow a journalist (or other interested party) to write the full story for themselves.  Following the suggested standard format helps with this ‘personalised expansion’ and will therefore increase the probability of success in having it published.

Whilst the press release may be one of the less glamorous elements of any PR plan, it should not be underestimated.  In our opinion it can lead to a plethora of other interesting opportunities, especially when it initiates a relationship with a valuable contact within targeted media.  Our top tip is to take the time and expend the energy to create a powerful piece – or, of course, enlist the help of a PR specialist to do it upon your behalf…