- Ask yourself, if this story was about another company, would it still be interesting to me? Would I want to read this?
- Determine how this will support your brand image and key message. Think about which benefits you want to promote to your target customers.
- Decide who will be your media contact. This should be a reliable professional who can talk expertly with the media on the topic of the press release.
- Research the media and create a media file of contacts and information. Find out who wants to receive press releases, photographs, topics of interest, and deadlines and verify their contact information. Don’t rely on media directories for this information, as the information is often out-dated. Determine if a mailed press release is needed, or if e-mail contact is preferred. Some reporters prefer that you fill out an online form for calendar and event listings. You can find most of this information on the publication’s web site.
- Be sure to put the content of your press release on your company blog. Also post the information (in HTML, not as a .pdf file) on the online newsroom of your company’s web site.
When To Send a Press Release
- New hires and promotions (upper management or executive level only)
- Customer promotions, giveaways, special events, contests.
- New website, new customer benefits, services, features, or products
- New office location.
- Human interest story.
- New business partnership.
- Community service, donations.
- Milestone achievements, sales rankings, awards.
- Classes, seminars, and presentations, especially free workshops for the public.
- Truly different business model, best practice, or offering.
- Hot news topic, trend, or commentary.
- Statistics, reports, research findings, etc.
- Timely and useful tips for consumers, expert advice, seasonal advice.
Basic Information to Include
- For Immediate Release
- Media Contact: name, title, phone, email
- Dateline: city, state, and date of the release
- A headline — the title of the release (may be in all caps)
- Lead paragraph: most important information–who, what, when, where, why
- Body: important details, quotes
- Boiler-plate: last paragraph is the company’s positioning statement, location, website address, etc.
Press Release Format
- Be brief. Restrict your press release to one page, if possible.
- If your press release is longer than one page, write -MORE- at the bottom of each additional page, and -END- at the bottom of the last page.
- Number the pages, if more than one page.
- Double-spaced, 1 inch margins.
- Times Roman, 12 Pt.
- Send them in the body of an e-mail or on your company’s letterhead.
- Write in a clear, objective, and journalistic style, avoiding hype and promotional language.
- Write -END- or # # # at the end of the press release.
Media Relations Tips
- Send out dozens of press releases to several reporters and editors at each publication.
- Expect the press release to be printed verbatim. A press release is not an advertisement.
- Send attachments, such as photographs, to reporters via e-mail. Let them know that photographs are available, however.
- Ask for a copy of the story if it comes out.
- Ask a reporter if he/she received your e-mail message or press release.
- Don’t say anything off the record. Assume anything you divulge will be published for all to see.
- Call when reporters are on deadline (if the paper is publishing on Thursday, don’t call on Tuesday).
- Send gifts of any kind to journalists.
- Read the publications to get a feel for the tone and content of the stories.
- Be friendly, professional, brief and polite whenever you speak with a journalist. Thank them for their time if you have a chance to speak with them, or compliment them on the story.
- Follow up with a phone call or email to see if you can provide any more information or an interview, but only for important stories (not class listings, new hires, etc.).
- Admit you don’t know the answer if you don’t but always offer to find out the answer and promise to get right back to the reporter. Always follow through on your promises.
- Have a press breakfast, special event, or online news conference if your story is huge and truly warrants special attention.
- Provide high quality graphics, photos, or charts, relevant statistics, or verifiable industry facts, with sources. Store these on your web page and let the reporters know they are available for downloading.
- Keep clippings of stories and include copies of your clippings in your press kit.
Mary Fletcher Jones is the co-owner of Fletcher Prince Communications http://www.fletcherprince.com a Washington, DC area creative agency offering public relations and marketing services. She is a member of Washington Women in Public Relations, the National Capital Chapter of the Public Relations Society of America, and the Independent PR Alliance.