What is a media release? Sometimes called a ‘press release’, I prefer ‘media release’ as the media sector is much broader than simply print or ‘press’ media; and journalists seem to like it.A media release is one of the most inexpensive ways you can announce your own news. It’s a story written by you and directed to journalists in the hope they will publish it, write about it, talk about it, interview you about it, etc.But a word of warning! Do NOT send an advertisement masquerading as a media release. Your credibility will be marked with a big ‘FAIL’ and you may have difficulty gaining the trust of a journalist in the future.What topics could form the basis of a media release?A media release MUST be newsworthy. For example, a new product launch or innovation, a new partnership, a relevant case study or perhaps a warning on some research you have conducted, a charitable event, a competition, or a new venture.How will I know who to send it to?Whatever topic you have chosen, send it to the appropriate media. Don’t have a scatter-gun approach and fire it off it all directions. This is another credibility killer. If you have a new yacht design don’t send it to a bike magazine. So, know your target audience – who buys your product or service? What do they read? What do they watch? Then do some research to find either specialist media and/or the right journalist at your local media outlets.AND, very important – whoever you send your media release to, know what they have done before. Read, watch or listen to their media. What topics do they cover? What is their media style? Who is the target audience of the journalist? Business? Women? Children? Sports lovers? Foodies? Health nuts?But I’m not a good writer.
Don’t worry if you can’t write like a journalist; you don’t have to. If you ‘tell an interesting story’ and attract interest from the media they will do all the work to make it media friendly.If it’s so cheap and easy, why doesn’t everyone do it?There are no guarantees that any media release will be picked up by a journalist, and they DO receive lots of them every day. That’s why YOURS has to stand out. So the magic inverted pyramid is here to help you out.Should I send pictures with my media release?Anything that helps the journalist understand your story better is good, So if you have appropriate visuals that aid understanding, send them. But don’t send too much. The journalist will think it’s all too hard and put you to the bottom of the pile; or worse – in the rubbish bin.Should I leave the best information to last to create a build up?The secret of the inverted pyramid is that the pointy bit is on the bottom. All the juicy, meaty stuff HAS to be at the beginning, starting with your most impacting first paragraph. The least relevant information is on the bottom.So, let’s start.1. Choose an angle: This should be relevant to the target media
new study angle
research based/statistical angle
small business angle
current affairs/emotional angle
new revelation/controversial angle
2. First one or two paragraphs: These should concisely cover the key points of the story in relation to who, what, why, how, when, where. Write only 60 – 70 words per paragraph.3. Don’t over write: The idea is to gain the interest of the journalist so they will make contact wth you and get more information. You don’t have to write pages and NEVER more than two. Try to keep you media release to one page only.4. Use of quotes: Quotes are really useful for journalists so ensure you have two or three good and relevant quotes from one or two people only. The people providing the quotes must be relevant to the story and have credibility.5. Double space the typing: Leave room on the margins and by also double spacing the text as journalists and editors WILL want to make comments on the copy. The easier you make their job the more likely it is for your media release to get picked up and for a journalist to pay attention to your future stories.6. Use a simple media release format: Journalists expect it and it shows you are professional.7. In capital letters write MEDIA RELEASE at the top of an A4 page (either your letterhead or insert your logo) and the date of issue. If you want to alert the media but have the story reported later (perhaps to coincide with a launch) then write Embargoed until (date)8. Next write your headline. Sometimes its easier to write the headline after you have finished the entire media relese. The headline is important as this is what will gain you attention; so it’s worth spending time on it. Keep it concise and interesting.Title:Needs to be concise and one that attracts attentionPara 1: who, what, when, where, why, (and sometimes how) – the basic structure for the opening sentence, giving a synopsis of the story so the journalist can get all the salient points immediately. Keep it as brief as possible: no more than two sentences in the first paragraph, preferably no longer than 30 words.Para 2: Give greater detail of the nature of the story and back up the story with facts or statistics (if applicable).Para 3: A quotation will often be desired by the journalist (they will add human element to the story). Include these in italics and inverted commas, if you are quoting yourself, use the third person of “he” or “she”.
Para 4: Elaborate on the details of the upcoming event that you want your public to be aware of: location, time, point of contact etc.Ending: close your document with either ### or ENDSNotes to the editor: Contact details(please ensure you or your contact person are available, not on holiday for example, if the media calls)(this is where you can give more specific details to the editor on relevant details such as contact details, a brief synopsis of the company’s history, and if you are attaching any visuals (note: compress the size of the picture if the file is very large).There is no rule on the number of paragraphs to be had in a press release, although brevity is good practice. Avoid superlatives and stick to the facts as best as you can. Ideally, all contents will fit on one sheet of A4 (this will prevent separate pages getting lost); media releases should not exceed two pages.Remember ïï¿½· Journalists love to include quotes from experts and spokespersons, statistics and visualsïï¿½· Always tell the truth, check facts and always double check spelling and grammarïï¿½· Finally, call the key journalists you are targeting to explain that you’re sending over the press release to him/her and to offer any further information verballyAs a final thought, when writing any media release, always try and imagine what it must be like to do the journalist’s job. Put simply, they are not interested in you: they are interested in the story for their readers.