Most public relations students who graduate from Arizona State’s J-school will know how to write a press release. We all know press releases are supposed to include main points about whatever it is we want media outlets to know about, but what are the media really looking for? What is going to get my release noticed over all the others?
I came across a guest post by a former professor of mine named Daryl James for the PR Practitioner. I also interned under him at the East Valley Tribune in Mesa, Ariz. I learned a lot by working there in terms of seeing how the media operates and how they weed through the hundreds of leads that come in each week. I think working in a newsroom is something every PR student should do.
James’ post gives five tips to PR professionals about what to include and what to leave out of press releases.
- Only include facts – James suggests bullet points containing the who, what, where, when, why and how
- It’s about the readers – Ask yourself, why should readers care about this?
- Don’t create more work for the editor – Paste the release in the body of the email and don’t use attachments
- Be honest – Don’t add more than there really is to the story or next time your release will get deleted without a second thought
- Be aware of your audience – Understand who your story is for
After reading this post I was a little upset. I had learned to write a press release in a PR class but not like this. We were taught to tell a story and include all the details. I would have liked to know things like bullets are OK and that it’s not about you or your client, it’s about the readers.
If those previous five points are true, what else do the media look for? What else can be done to put your releases above the others? What can I include in my releases to make editors eager to receive them?
Considering I am graduating in May and that hundreds of press releases are deleted every week at any given news organization, I found these tips to be extremely helpful. I just wish I had known facts like this earlier on.