My Marketing Thing

The art of writing a good media release

The art of writing a media release

 

Okay, the title to this post is a little misleading.  ‘The art of…’ – well, let’s just say that creativity is not encouraged when writing a media release.  

For a start you need to:

  • be factual
  • sound objective
  • pull back on the adjectives


Writing style

In short, you need to write like the journalist you are sending the release to.  Be a copy cat – it’s greatest form of flattery and they might actually find your media release useful for publishing.

If you write as if the journalist has written it, less ‘work’ will be required on the journalist’s part. Less work means a greater likelihood of your information appearing. 


Keep it short

You will probably find that the general media the style can often have quite short and punchy sentences. Again, get rid of flowery adjectives. And best curb your release to one page, if possible.


Difficult terms

Unless you’re sending the release to an industry publication, avoid jargon. If you must use jargon, explain what you mean by it. Provide a phonetic translation (in brackets) for words that might be hard to pronounce.


Media release format

  • Head your page: Media Release – For Immediate Release (unless embargoed), and include the date
  • Title of media release: think of an interesting/unique eye-catching angle/hook 
  • Basic facts must be addressed first: Who, What, When, Where + Why
  • The following material: prioritise information, most important first
  • Include quotes from yourself (and perhaps other relevant parties – approved, of course)
  • Base of page – event details (if appropriate): title/name/dates/venue 
  • Base of page – contact details for more info, high resolution images and interview opportunities: your full name, work/home/mobile telephone numbers, and (where appropriate) fax and email contacts
  • Also include image caption information for image(s) attached 


Headline

This is important, even though the journalist is unlikely to use it if they take the story. You write a headline to attract the journalist’s attention. It still has to be in sunc with what would appeal to that journalist’s audience. Something new, topical, even controversial, is worth focusing on – as long as it’s relevant to the content of the media release.

Again, keep it short and punchy.  

For example: “Sydney artists protest exhibition snub”, or “New findings offer relief in healthcare crisis”. That kind of thing.


First paragraph

Put the most important piece of information in the first paragraph. Use active and engaging language, and keep it to less than 30 words.  


Quotes

Include quotes from the most relevant person (or people) to speak to on the issue, including their title(s)/position(s). If the journalist uses the media release, the article would appear as if an interview had taken place, even if there wasn’t the time. Including quotes can also inspire journalists to call for more statements.


Vitally important points:

  • Be original and fresh
  • Be topical
  • Don’t use too many adjectives (I know, I keep saying this)
  • Don’t write an advertisement, be objective
  • Avoid big news days
  • When all else fails, write a ‘list article’ (best ofs, top tens, etc.)


Check it before you send it

Triple-check your facts, names and contact details. Proofread your release, and preferably have two others do this for you, too.  


Emailing the media release

  • Write a short intro in message box then paste the release text below
  • If attaching an image ensure it’s a low resolution jpeg file (preferably attachments under 2.5 MB total)
  • Consider also attaching a PDF version of the media release with a small image of your work in the header (don’t use Word, as it jumbles text and images)  


A note on images

Sometimes a great photograph can determine the success of your media release pitch. If you don’t have a good original photograph, you can suggest a particular image library photograph instead (ensure you tell them where it came from).

If an original image is offered, include the photographer’s name and the year the photograph was taken in the caption information.


Hold on – who are you sending it to?

Make sure you do your research and find out the best people to send the media release to. Find out individual names and their email addresses – this might involve picking up the phone and talking with a receptionist or the journalist. Also ask about their deadlines for content (glossy mags often work to a 2-4 month lead time). Your media release could arrive too early or too late to be useful. 

Make sure your email starts with their name: “Dear….”

Journalists, editors and sub-editors change jobs form time to time.  So make sure your media contact list is up to date.


What next?

You can follow-up with a direct call to your key media contacts.  But don’t expect to speak with them directly.  Most journos I know seem to have their voicemail on permanently.  

If time and resources permit, you can post a media kit. Media Kit Content: media release, CD of images and relevant docs, business card or relevant promotional card, past (but relevant) media clippings/published reviews, etc.


Wrapping up

Media interest relies on your information to be:

  • on time
  • in the right format 
  • appropriate to their content and readership

…and, of course, irresistible reading.

 

 


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