There are many ways of looking at a media release. The bottom line is it’s a release of information designed to get media interested in your story.
So the first thing you need to do is have an attractive and catchy headline.
Some people will tell you a headline should only be one line. That’s simply not true. A headline can be as long as you need it to be – so long as you are summarising the story and giving the reader a clear picture of what the story is about.
At Media Key, we frequently write headlines that may run for three paragraphs or more. This has never been to the detriment of a PR campaign. The key is to capture the information and distil it. The key is to tell people in a number of sentences what the story is all about.
There are no ‘rules’ about exactly how you should do a media release.
The following may assist when you are putting a release together.
Firstly, be aware journalists only have so much time. Jobs are being cut back more and more in the media so in an ideal situation a media release runs for no longer than two pages.
Secondly, in those two pages ‘tell the story’ and give plenty of facts and figures. Tell the media what the story is about. Attribute quotes to the right spokesperson and give statistics and examples using those statistics.
Stay away from ‘jargon’ and keep your information tight and punchy. It’s important that anybody reading the story can understand the messages in the media release and understand what the story is all about. If you get lost in waffle, that’s what is going to happen to your reader. It’s really important to keep things simple.
Using the old KISS principle – Keep It Simple Stupid – is always a good idea. Keep everything bright, fresh and simple.
Make sure there is a clear media contact at the end of every media release. Make sure that phone number is going to be picked up at any time if a journalist calls. The last thing journalists want is to call a phone number because they are interested in a story, and then they can’t reach anybody.
Memorable lines are a vital part of any media release. It’s not just a question of giving out statistics. You need to paint pictures to highlight the problem or issue. Consider carefully how you can create a memorable line. Consider also the visuals behind any story.
Many members of the media are going to want visuals. They may need images for a website. If it is TV, they are looking for good pictures.
Accordingly, at the end of your release, there should be a section called ‘Visual Opportunities’ where you highlight the visuals to media and show them what is possible.
Finally, the last thing you want to do is become known as somebody who will peddle anything just for the sake of it. Be sparing when issuing media releases. It’s always best to issue a media release because it has genuine news value. That way you become known for issuing material that is always worth reading and always worth considering. This has to be your ultimate goal. You want media to know you mean business and know and understand their business.
By Ross Woodward, Principal of Media Key. Media Key Public Relations has written hundreds of media releases for dozens and dozens of clients over the years. Ross is a former ABC/BBC journalist. Media Key is one of Australia’s leading PR firms.