What Do Journalists Want in a Press Release?
Give journalists exactly what they're looking for.
What do journalists really think of your press release?
Is your news unique, different and interesting? Is it helpful and insightful? Is it highly shareable?
If you answered “no” to any of these questions, you might want to rethink why you’re creating a press release in the first place.
Journalists wade through massive amounts of content and want to quickly establish if your news is worth writing about. Your most important information should be covered in the first paragraph of the release, with perhaps a second paragraph of directly relevant background material.
A news release should give members of the media everything they need to write a story that will grab their readers’ attention.
To help your release get the coverage it deserves, these sets of best practices will give journalists exactly what they’re looking for.
1. First things first – here are the three points to keep in mind before pitching your news to a journalist:
- Write about one announcement at a time. Your release should only be about one news item, and if you have more than one announcement, send another press release.
- Refrain from making your release overly promotional. Don’t write your press release like an advertisement, as it will be immediately discarded.
- Write with these six questions in mind and answer: what, who, when, where, how and why.
2. While sifting through news releases, some journalists often use the TRUTH acronym to test a story’s newsworthiness:
- Topical – Is your news of the moment, timely, new and something people are talking about?
- Relevant – Is your news relevant to a specific audience?
- Unusual – Is your news not what people already know or expect? Something that will surprise the audience? In the world of social media, a journalist may be more enticed to cover a story that’s unusual as it could generate more clicks and drive more traffic to their website.
- Trouble – Does your news show how you’re solving a problem?
- Human Interest - What's in it for people? What impact will your news have on the lives of customers or a wider community?
If your story has at least four out of five on this list, you stand a great chance of getting their attention.
3. For your next release, here are standards to follow that will make it more likely a journalist will cover your story:
- Headline: Keep it short. Up to 110 characters will do.
- Dateline: This will confirm that you are proving the most up-to-date information.
- Intro/Lede: Make sure this includes a brief overview of the story, including answers to the questions: who, what, when, why and with what effect? Give important facts and figures.
- Body: Provide an explanation about the information provided earlier in the lede, starting from the most newsworthy info to other less important, background pieces of information.
- Facts and Figures: Journalists like numbers, so show data and results where applicable.
- Quotes: Include context and color around the facts of the story with quotes from executives or subject-matter experts.
- Video and Photos: Including multimedia with your release will make your news more visually appealing and engaging. It will also allow you to tell a more powerful story.
- Source: Cite your sources, as it provides credibility to your news. Stay away from anonymous sources.
- Boilerplate: Introduce your company and provide all the necessary background information in one at-a-glance view.
- Media Contact Information: Clearly provide the contact information of your spokesperson in case the journalist has follow-up questions.
To ensure your press release stands out amongst the dozens of stories that are pitched to a journalist each day, it’s essential to apply the above tips and strategies to create powerful and effective content that journalists will want to use.
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