Tips for writing press releases

Press releases need to be written as a newsworthy article, but in one page. Too often pr clients, or even professional pr writers put too much fluff into a press release and not the facts. Maybe it is because the pr client wants to believe that their news is more important than those published. That isn’t a reason to not follow the unwritten rules of writing good press releases. newswothy publicity

Here are a few tips that we follow in the industry. Follow them, and you will have a better chance to get published.

1- Is the topic newsworthy? Announcing the new position of a person in your company may be news to you, but not to the reporters or editors. Even an open house isn’t “big news”. This doesn’t mean those releases won’t be published, but the odds are not very high they will. Try putting something exciting into these. For example, for an open house, announce that you are having a guest speaker, or will be offering something to the community.

2- Make your intro paragraph interesting, not a sales pitch. Give the reporter/editor something that wants them to read more.

3- Be sure you follow the AP style/formats and that it is grammatically sound.

4- Is the release fact based and well documented?

5- Make sure the message matches your target audience.

6- Be sure all the proper contact information is listed.

These are just a few of the important tips you need to write a good press release. Also, keep it to one page if possible.  Your list of media needs to be considered when submitting the release. But that’s another topic. If you search Google for “writing press releases” you will see that these tips are mentioned by most all professionals and editors in the industry.

How To Create A Media List

Build a solid database for reporters and other media

Do you have a customized media list to distribute your press releases? Are you using a public relations agency, or do you submit your press releases through a PR distribution service?

It doesn’t matter what method you use, what matters is yourmedia list publicity release or article reaches the reporters or editors that relate best to your industry. You need to target the right media. Using a general, catch-all list will not help your publicity campaign move forward. So what is the solution to reaching the right media?

I read an article called “Guide to Creating a Media List for Your PR” that has many of the answers.

If you don’t get a chance to read the article, I’ll give you a short review of what that author suggests.

1- Purchase a list.  There are companies that provide media lists for sale. You can start looking at Bulldog Reporter’s Media Base, or PR Essentials Company. Another well-known name in publicity services is BurrellesLuce.

2- Distribution Service. Several companies provide distribution of press releases. A few of them are: PRWeb, although a free service, to get full distribution, you will need to subscribe or upgrade from free to fee. eReleases and Advanced-PR are two other companies to consider. Each charges a fee. Another public relations service for distribution is 24-7 Press Release. They also have a fee.

3- Create your own custom list. This is good for pr clients or small pr firms that need to distribute locally, or in limited industries. Try, or Yahoo! News Directory.

If you want to really get noticed, then you need to do more than just send out a press release or two. It requires an on-going effort. It requires hiring a public relations service company who can develop, write and distribute a full campaign. Did I mention that’s what we do? We are here to help you meet your publicity goals. Call George Carson today. He’ll get you noticed!

Making a Story Pitch Takes Talent

How do you start the conversation?

publicity is like sellingProfessional publicity people know how to contact the media, know how to start a conversation and probably know what angle to present to the reporter. But do they really? Chances are these top publicity people get through the clutter by knowing the media on a personal basis. I don’t mean they go drinking together (or maybe they do), I mean they have built a long-term business relationship making it easier to contact them.

For the other pr firms and pr individuals, who make up about 75% of the publicity world, think about how you can improve your pitch to a reporter or publisher and get that article or press release published.

It’s all in the sales effort. Notice how different sales people get through and those who just never seem to. That’s because they have taught themselves over the years the fine art of salesmanship (or saleswomen ship).

I know of a great person who has taught thousands of people the art of "opening doors". You may have heard of Ari Galper. He has a web site called

I am not trying to sell you on him. And I am not getting any commissions either. I know that he has a clear understanding how to get into meeting with people, usually by phone. But it just isn’t the sales tools that he teaches. If you apply what he explains to your publicity activities, you will be a better individual and in the long run it will help your pr clients as well as yourself.

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Personalize Your Message

Publicity is not generic

If you received a birthday gift from someone that said "to whom it may concern", or Occupant", you would probably dismiss the gift and be rather upset with the sender.

Well, if that were true, why would you send a publicity release, or a press kit and address a reporter in an email with a generic "subject" title? The best way to have press releases, or pitching a story viewed is to personalize it to the reporter, or publisher. Yes, this takes more time but the rewards to get published are greater.

Your public relations campaign should appear more personalized to the recipient. This means more than the name of the reporter or editor or publisher’s name on the envelope, or email address. Just as you would send a gift and personalize a note on the card, why not do the same to that media contact? If you have to ask why, then you obliviously are not getting the message I am making.

All industries are hit with hundreds of pubic relations agencies sending out thousands of releases every day. To make you stand out, use a personalized cover letter (do this even when sending it as an email), include good photos that tell or describe what the release is about, and make the press release, or story be informative, not a sales pitch.

These are just a few tips for any public relations person to follow. If you are a pr client, then make sure the people who implement your publicity campaign use these tips wisely.

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Cold Calling Is Like Publicity

Know your prospect and know the media

How many times do you or other companies you know ask their sales people to make cold calls. Or tell them it’s a numbers game. The more calls you make, the more chances you have in getting a sale.

This is a bad method to doing business. Because the reality is that you loose more prospects and probably don’t get past your 5 seconds of intro before the person on the other end hangs up on you. Also, you are wasting a lot of hours making calls that may never buy from you.

This can be compared to publicity. It isn’t a numbers game in sending out a flood of press releases to media that are not interested in your product or service. Be selective. Know your media. Contact the reporter, the publisher and send them a press kit with a cover letter. You can do this as an email if the publication you are contacting accepts this form of communication.

By choosing a limited number of cold calls that you have identified, you should know about that prospects company, the products they are already buying (from you or a competitor), know what they need then make your call. And that call should start off with a question. Asking them to help you with a problem. Make it relate to their situation and your product or service.

This may not be exactly the way to make a call to the media. But think about it, you call them not knowing anything about the publication, or you haven’t done your homework to see if your product or service will be a featured subject a few issues from now, or maybe it already has been written about.

Contacting the media is not a numbers game, nor should your sales department think it is either.

Target marketing is the best solution and that applies to your publicity as well.

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What Makes a Good Press Release

Writing a press release for the media

This same old problem still exists. No matter how many articles or blogs or books you read, people still forget the basics to writing a good press release for the media. The focus is the "media".

I’ve seen pr people say that there are 10 tips, some say there are 7 tips, publishers will write an entire book with lots of tips. So who’s right?

Everyone. What makes a good release is that you first make sure it has news value…newsworthy, to the reader.
If you feel this is what you have then you need to identify your media. Trade publications should be identified differently than consumer, or general media. You need to write the release differently, not just the opening statement.

Now, rather than give you 7 top points, which is how Joan Stewart describes her point of writing a release (and I am not commenting in a negative way, she has good points), I will give you the brief version.

Make the release accurate with all the information. This includes your contact information should the reporter or editor want to contact you for further information.

Keep the release short, not more than two pages. And keep the "sell" out of the release. This is to be an informative writing, not a sales letter or sell sheet.

Now you need to distribute the release. This can be done via email, traditional mail, and/or fax (if it is high priority and needs immediate attention). Keep in mind the reporter, or editor reading the release is a person who has a lot to read to decide if YOUR information is something of value to their readers.

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Know the Media

Get familiar with reporters work

It’s been awhile since I sat down and wrote anything, but no excuses but just keeping busy.

With that said let’s move on to some good info.

If you are trying to pitch an article or get some recognition for your company, or a client, it is wise to know something about the reporter you are pitching the article to.

For example you wouldn’t send out a press release about a product without knowing the main features and interesting things it offers the readers. So why would you contact a reporter without knowing his or her writing style or subjects they prefer to write about.

To concur this I saw a blog at Dan Janal’s site that had a comment from John DiPietro who wrote to Dan that "I ALWAYS DID RESEARCH ON THE WRITER PRIOR TO THE INTERVIEW".

This gets you further acquainted with the writer and makes an interview, or pitch easier.

Mr. DiPietro also commented "I always read one of their other pieces, then COMMENTED ON IT TO THEM. This brought me into a more friendly relationship with them."

Reporters like to know that you know their work and will many times be more open to hearing about your company or the story you want to pitch to them.

Now that isn’t the secret to getting a story. This is only a method to help you better get a chance to present the story. The rest is up to how important the story is to their readers; the credible information and how it applies to helping readers improve their business, etc.

So now that you have the story you want to pitch, select a reporter or two, read at least one or two recent articles they wrote and then see if your story fits that reporter’s style and publication. If it does, you’re ready to make the call.

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