Press releases are an essential part of any digital marketing campaign, whether you’re making a general business announcement about a new product, service or crisis communication management, you need to think about why this news really matters and quickly demonstrate that you have a NEWS story. This is at the heart of all digital PR campaigns.
In light of recent discussions disputing the relevance of press releases, our stance at OggaDoon, Bristol, remains the same. The hunger for compelling stories, from publications, journalists and our industries as a whole, is stronger than ever. This has created a relationship, an essential yet, albeit, conditional one between journalists and PR – they need our help to deliver the stories their publications need and our industries want to hear about. For this reason, the competition among communicators is fierce and in turn, they have a wealth of different approaches on how to write the perfect press release – one they think will satisfy the needs of the journalist and secure them that vital collaboration. Here at OggaDoon PR, digital marketing and social media agency Bristol, we would like to share our formula gathering the key newsworthy facts to craft your perfect release. Here’s introducing the 5Ws, the 3Ps and the vital 1C. Intrigued, then please read on!
One common mistake is trying to write like a journalist – when what you should be trying to do is think like a journalist. Imagine you are on the receiving end; you have tens, perhaps hundreds of press releases along with other emails sent to you every day. What are you going to want to read and what is going to make your eyes roll? It’s fair to say that you’d click on the headlines that you are drawn to because they stick out, perhaps because they’re funny, perhaps because they’re succinct, maybe because it was unexpected. It’s also fair to say that you would be put off by big chunks of writing, you’ve got 101 things to do and think about and only 1% of that energy is reserved for reading emails. You would want to recognise newsworthy value, the angle and outcome within the first few lines, otherwise, the tidiness of your inbox would quickly supersede in value and just like that, the email that you spent an hour fashioning now resides in the trash.
If you want to make your press release stand out in a crammed inbox you must find a healthy balance between being original and trying too hard. The best way to do this is to think outside the box with your subject line and title, this is the only place you are granted to be creative and witty – the actual bulk of the release is purely pragmatic. Keep it to the point and make sure you hit the ‘Five Ws’. Don’t try and zhuzh it up with unnecessary jargon and clichés – journalists already know the jargon, they won’t be impressed that you do too. Lastly, don’t say your story is newsworthy, show that it is – if a press release looks like an advertisement, it will be ignored.
One way you can do this is by maintaining a sense of objectivity but also having an overarching sentiment throughout. This could be a sentiment of excitement, regarding a new launch or change in the marketplace, or it could have a theme, like nationalism or nostalgia. Part of identifying these themes is refining your angle and identifying the societal implications of your story.
Whilst people often stress the 5Ws when it comes to writing the perfect press release, the angle that you need to convey from these is often lost – so really, there should be three Ps, a C and an I threw in: alternative perspective, progress, public eye, conflict, and local impact. The angle of your story answers the questions journalists really want to know; Have you got another side to the status quo? What solution is it to what problem? What will the public response be? Who and what does it challenge? What impact does this have on the community? Remember that you have good reason to be invested in your story, but you need to look for the bigger, engaging storyline to give everyone else a reason to be.
Once you have got all these juicy bits in, it is time to offer a bit of context. Your second paragraph should contain an impactful quote from one or two persons that have authority in the industry. Here it is easy to fall into the trap so many are partial to – the temptation of adding fluff. Every sentence in a press release needs to have value, if you are adding one for the sake of it, maybe to balance out the sizing of your paragraphs, you have fallen headfirst into the trap. The key objective should be to select a quote that brings the story to life and helps paint a picture of how influential the announcement is. Quotes are not for information, but for insight – so make sure to use a quote that reflects a unique perspective on the subject.
The further you get down a press release, the less vital the information. Thus, there should definitely be nothing crucial to the story in the last paragraph. This section serves to strengthen and round off your narrative – this could mean offering background into ways the company developed the project or insights into future implications of the news (if this is a core theme of the release, then it belongs in the first paragraph, but if there are other stronger angles, it may be more appropriate at the bottom as additional content).
Empathy may not be the first emotion you would associate with journalists yet employing it will make not only make writing the perfect press release a far more streamline process but also far more successful in terms of responses. We can all think of ways to make our own jobs easier, so try and think of how you can make theirs so, and in the time you save doing so, invest more energy on constructing an irresistible title that will surely make them look twice.
OggaDoon specialises in guerrilla communications and marketing to gain you reach.