Turn the clock back to 2010. The Rudd Gillard leadership spill gave us Australia’s first female Prime Minister. The news was dominated by the mineral resource tax and bushfires burnt into the heart of Victoria.
It was also the year that social media was everywhere. Everyone was talking about it. Let the comms team write the media release, you’d better get yourself over to Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram.
There’s a good reason media releases never died out. They still work. I know from experience that the media release works in achieving its objective: getting a reputable news outlet to talk about you.
Media releases are short and snappy 300 words of direct meaning. They don’t waffle. They get right to the point and quickly explain why this person, this event, or this announcement matters, and matters now.
It’s this simplicity of fact and meaning that journalists like. They don’t have to go searching through your feed to find out who you are. You’ve laid it all out very clearly what the story is and why it matters.
I’ve had a lot of my media releases literally picked up by a journalist or blogger and used directly in their article. (Okay, they’ve copied almost exactly what I’ve written – which is cool by me!)
A media release isn’t just a gift from you to the journalist. You get a gift too. You get a story about you, your business or announcement in a respected publication or media outlet.
In our busy, noisy world, that’s a huge credibility indicator. It makes you stand out. And that’s when people contact you to invite you to do stuff. That’s when media in one outlet leads to another.
Media releases got me interviewed on ABC TV, radio and online news in Australia, interviewed on an American television show, and profiled in Australian newspapers and blogs around the world.
I’m not saying social media won’t do this for you too. But media releases should definitely be part of your communication strategy. A good media release can save you time and lead to more direct outcomes.
Media release writing tips
So how do we create a media release that keeps on giving – to the journalist and to you? Here’s what I’ve learnt over the years through experience and hard work:
- You might think your press release is about you but it’s not. Your press release is about the journalist and their readers. Why do they care about this story? Why now?
- Match your news, your story, to the right publication or media outlet. Some outlets are just not going to be interested but some are. And they are the ones you’re looking for.
- Media releases should be 100% targeted. Don’t send the same media release to everyone. Have a base of 250 to 300 words which you then tweak and adapt to make it completely right for that journalist and her readers, or that blogger and his podcast listeners.
- Deadlines are short and people are really busy. Make it easy on them. You’re creating 300 words of direct meaning here. Answer the who, what, when, where and how. You've already done 'why'. (See the first point.)
- Include direct quotes from the right people, for example, your director or visiting guru. And make the quotes real. Base the quote on a discussion you’ve had with them or from something they’ve already written or approved. It doesn’t always have to be from the top either; a quote from a visitor or happy customer may be the perfect fit too for the outlet you are targeting.
- Make sure you include how they can contact you and if you’re offering more. Sometimes you aren’t offering more, and that’s okay. But if you are, make sure it’s clear. Are you available for an interview? Are you having a photo opportunity?
- Then come back to the beginning. Spend the time and craft a compelling headline. Journalists for reputable publications are emailed hundreds of media releases a day. Time spent on crafting the right headlines will mean the difference between a click to open or a click to delete.
If you're looking for more direct outcomes, it's worth giving media releases a turn. They should be part of your diversified communication strategy.
Need help with your media releases? For a direct and affordable media release, email me.