When your organisation has a genuine news story, you can reasonably expect some coverage in a mainstream newspaper or the trade press. However, publication is never guaranteed.
That’s why I have written this blog to give you some important tips to help you boost your chances of success.
Importantly, don’t call them press releases… Call them NEWS releases… This gives a better impression straight away.
It’s also important your news release is written in the succinct and objective language of news. If a reporter must spend time rewriting it, you are less likely to achieve publication. But if your story hits all the right notes, it’s much more likely to be handed straight to the designer.
Number one tip:
News Editors are very good at spotting a cynical PR ploy. That’s because they’re bombarded with them every single day. Therefore, make sure your story has a legitimate public interest angle.
The classic example is raising money for a local charity. But don’t get confused about who the story is about… The focus should always be on the people that benefit, not your business.
For other kinds of stories, only use your business as the subject as a last resort. If you think creatively you can find a strong angle that doesn’t make you sound like you’re just angling for column inches to promote your business.
If it’s about a new product then focus on how it will help people. If you are up for an industry award then make that the story, emphasising that you are a local employer.
The most successful formula:
OK, so you’ve found your story. Now it’s time to start drafting your news release. A good tip is to leave the headline until last. It may be clearer what it should be once you’ve written the story.
Another good tip is that generally-speaking every sentence should be a new paragraph to break the story down into a logical and readable structure. Sometimes it’s appropriate to have two sentences in one paragraph, but this is usually one short one and one longer one.
Your very first sentence (and paragraph) is known as your ‘intro’. This is your big chance to grab the reader’s attention. The classic formula for an intro is to round up the ‘who, what, where, when, why and how’ of your story.
“Local children will benefit from a new play area at Appletree Park thanks to a fundraising dinner organised by Wally’s Widgets that raised £10,000.”
Now you should write the supporting information for your story in descending order of importance. A good test is to imagine cutting the story off at any paragraph break. If the story still makes sense, then you’re structuring it well.
As we reach the end of the story, it’s time to add a little spice. Up until now you should have refrained from using subjective language to lavish praise or emphasise quality. However, if it’s somebody’s opinion then it’s fine. Quotes will do this job for you.
Local parish councillor Barry Simpson said he was delighted with the money for the new facility, adding: “This play area will be a wonderful addition to the village, and we are very grateful to the wonderful people at Wally’s Widgets.”
Then add a quote from you or a nominated representative of your business. They will typically say how delighted they are to help a good cause.
Finally, it’s time to think about your heading: ‘LOCAL KIDS TO BENEFIT AFTER DINERS RAISED £10K FOR NEW PLAYGROUND’, or something similar. Sometimes it’s good to add a sub-heading to reinforce the importance of the story. In this case you might wish to add: Local councillor looks forward to ‘wonderful addition to village’.
Any snippets of information that didn’t make the final cut can be put into a section below your news release called Notes to Editors. This is common practice and means that a reporter can scan for anything else he or she finds interesting.
Another good idea is to send it on a Monday or Tuesday morning because these are traditionally the slowest news days.
Sometimes it’s also good to follow up your news release with a quick call to the news desk to encourage journalists to acknowledge your story. That’s because it may have become buried in a reporter’s inbox.
As an example, here’s a news release I wrote for Lymington and Pennington Town Council recently:
FREE Lymington Italia Festival for local branch of MS Society – July 1st
Lymington’s FREE Italia Festival will be held on July 1st this year with all charitable proceeds going to the Lymington and New Forest branch of the Multiple Sclerosis Society.
The Lymington and Pennington Town Council event is set to be bigger than ever in 2018, thanks to a huge wave of local support.
For those who don’t know, it’s all about chic Italian motor cars, quality Italian food, a fun family day out and raising money for charity.
The day begins at 10am when 50 classic Ferrari owners from the Wessex Ferrari Owners’ Club will meet with their beloved vehicles at Lymington’s Yacht Haven.
At around midday the iconic sports cars will depart in convoy to Pennington Cross, then travel up Stanford Hill, along Southampton Road, down Avenue Road and along Gosport Street, before entering the High Street.
Once there, the cars will be parked in the centre of town, which will be pedestrianised so people can admire them.
A Raffle, with a wide range of prizes including a ride in a Ferrari and/or Aston Martin, will be match funded up to £1,000 by Barclays.
Visitors will also be able to enjoy an authentic taste of Italy thanks to an Italian food market, which will offer an array of Mediterranean taste sensations.
This will include olives, vinegars, antipasti, pesto, breads, cheeses, desserts, salami, meringues, ice cream and fudge.
There will be face painting and a Ferrari models stand, along with pizzas, traditional Italian street food, pasta, a hog roast, fish & chips and a BBQ as well.
Plus, local traders will be selling Italian clothes, handbags and artisan gifts.
Not only that, Lymington Rock Choir will be performing at 2.00pm, singing a medley of songs.
Mayor of Lymington and Pennington, Anne Corbridge, said: “Every year this event exceeds all our expectations, and we’re looking forward to another enjoyable day out this time around.
“It’s great fun for the whole family, and I’d like to thank in advance our sponsors, the choir, the stall holders and the local businesses who have kindly donated some very desirable raffle prizes.”
A spokesperson for the Lymington and New Forest branch of the MS Society said: “We’re honoured to have been chosen by the Mayor as her Italia Festival charity for 2018.
“The branch doesn’t receive any funding from the national MS Society, but relies on its own fundraising together with donations from generous groups and individuals.”
Lymington and New Forest MS Society has helped hundreds of local people living with the effects of MS.
It provides advice, gives practical and emotional support, and organises exercise classes and social groups.
You can find out more about the 2018 Lymington Italia Festival on the event’s Facebook page – www.facebook.com/lymingtonitaliafestival
Notes to Editors:
Sponsors this year:
- Deep Blue Financial
- Absolute Graphics
- Freestyle Web Design
Raffle tickets can be bought on the day from the council stall, which will be located outside the EE shop in the High Street. The raffle will be drawn at 3pm.
- A half-hour ride in an Aston Martin and a half hour ride in a Ferrari (or an hour in one of them) donated Deep Blue Financial Ltd.
- £76 of Clarins Products donated by Matisse Beauty Clinic in Christchurch.
- A meal voucher and a bottle of Champagne donated by Stanwell House.
- A family ticket to Beaulieu Motor Museum.
- A magnum of prosecco donated by PHR Recruitment.
- A magnum of prosecco donated by Solent Cellar.
- Specialty coffee donated by Coffee Monger Roasting Company.
- Many more items including treats and meal vouchers generously donated by local businesses and traders.
Ferraris in the convoy this year include:
1973 Dino, F430 Spider, Ferrari FF, 550 Marinello, 458 Speciale, 430 Scudiera, 360 Modena, 458 Italia, Mondial, F40, F12 and California.