If you were a reporter, more information would cross your desk in a day than most people might see in a week. As a reporter, you could receive as many as 100 press releases a day, so what you want is information that’s easy to read, usually no longer than a page or two, and worthy of a news or feature story. In short, reporters want clear, brief and newsworthy information. They want a press release. But before you attempt to write anything, you’ve first got to understand what your marketing needs are, and develop “angles” that best communicate your message.
Where to Start
Developing a good angle requires strategic thinking on your part. What are your areas of expertise and how can people benefit from that expertise? Then figure out which areas of expertise will lead new customers to your door, and focus your efforts on publicizing those areas. For example, if you trying to build your business in cleaning residential carpets, put yourself in the shoes of a homeowner, and think about that person’s concerns and needs. Homeowners tend to be concerned about health issues such as allergy symptoms, consumer issues such as fair pricing, and problem solving, such as stain removal or pet odor elimination. Your angle, then, would be a consumer-oriented press release on one of these issues.
Here are some additional angles/approaches to consider:
- Things related to the time of year, i.e./anniversaries of major events. The 10th anniversary of the Exxon Valdez oil spill, for example, is a good time to alert people to environmental issues.
- Research your agency can release. Have you held a conference or seminar or have you conducted a study? Write up conference proceedings and distribute them.
- Information about an upcoming event. Who, What, When, Where, How?
- Attendance records and fund raising achievements.
- New donors, new sponsors, new relationships with vendors. You should send these releases to both internal and external audiences.
- Stands on community issues: Your group objects to a piece of legislation and why.
You’ve Got An Angle, But Now What?
Once you’ve determined what story you want to tell to the press, you need to put it in written form. Press releases are the industry standard, and consist of a contact name and number, the date of release, a headline, a good first sentence and paragraph, and a page or more of relevant copy. Remember that reporters receive hundreds of press releases each day. What will make yours stand out is a strong headline, an enticing first paragraph or lead, and the quality of the information in the rest of the press release.
Whenever possible, the lead paragraph should summarize the entire story. The paragraphs afterward should be arranged in order of importance. The final paragraph should always tell people whom to contact to get more information. Stay away from fancy typefaces and try to keep it to a page or two. Once your release is written, proof it carefully and put it on letterhead.