We offer some handy tips for getting the most out of your press releases
There’s no better way to spotlight your charity’s work than to be talked about by an influential publication or content producer with a large audience.
But getting other people to talk about and ’create buzz’ about your charity takes a bit more thought than simply putting up an advertisement. If you want your charity to get media attention, the first thing you’ll need to know is how to write an excellent, attention-grabbing press release.
A press release is a short, compelling written communication that conveys the essential facts of a story, in the hope that a journalist will run it.
Before you get to the writing stage, it’s important to do your research around which publications and journalists are most relevant to you and your target audience (whether, local, national or niche) and consider the purpose and timing behind your announcement.
Here are a few tips when it comes to crafting your press release.
Whether you decide to deliver your press release directly into the inbox of a relevant journalist, or via a press release distribution service, a press release is a tried-and-tested way of getting the news out about your charity’s latest achievement, event or launch. But what might be big news for your charity might not be as compelling for someone else.
The first challenge is getting your press release to even be read. Most journalists’ inboxes are full to the brim with emails vying for their attention. What will you do to make it stand out to them? How will ultimately engage the reader? What is your story about, and what is the ’hook’?
A news hook is the one thing that will make it interesting, inspiring or valuable to readers, that you will base your press release around. Ask yourself, are you actually announcing something newsworthy? If you’re struggling to find what that hook should be, the answer could be no.
Here are some common types of hooks:
Timeliness: Is your announcement timely? Does it tie in with something happening in the news, locally or nationally? Does it tie in with an awareness day or national campaign?
Impact: Does your story have a potential impact on people reading? Can readers get involved, or is it about an issue that has a big impact on the community your publication reaches?
Prominence: Are there any prominent individuals involved in the story? Do they have something to say in the form of a quotation?
Proximity: Are people in a certain local area likely to find your story interesting and valuable? Or within a certain community?
Magnitude: Are there any impressive, record-breaking or surprising numbers or statistics involved? Did you do something big or far-reaching?
Conflict: Is there a compelling problem or danger that people should know about?
Oddity: This one is pretty subjective, but is there something funny or odd that you think will simply make someone stop and want to know more? Is there an unusual or surprising twist?
Once you’ve pinpointed the newsworthy hook to your story, make sure it’s front and centre in the headline and in the subject line of the email.
What goes into a press release? To answer that, consider that the purpose of a press release is to give the journalist everything they need to write the story, without having to work hard to find the relevance or key facts. Once you know what your story should be about, you will need to convey that information as concisely and clearly as possible. You can do this by using simple, jargon-free language, keeping it brief and using the ’inverted pyramid’ structure.
The first paragraph of your press release needs to contain all the key information:Who? What? Where? When? Why? And how?
This is your opening, and its purpose is to help the journalist decide whether they should continue reading. It needs to ’hook’ them by conveying all the most crucial details that make the story compelling. It should be short (30 words or less) and can include a provocative question.
The middle paragraph or two of your press release you can include further details, background and quotes around the story.
The end of your press release is the place to include further information such as:
Images and videos, while compelling, can sometimes fall foul of email services’ spam filters, which is the first hurdle if you want your email to be seen. However, you should have them ready on request. Certain words may also end up triggering spam filters – we’ve covered how to avoid this in our webinar ’9 ways your charity can spam-proof your email marketing’.
With these tips in mind, you should be able to shoot off the perfect press release that grabs interest and wins publicity for your charity.