In today’s digital world there is a common misconception that online marketing is the only way to go, and newspapers and magazines, like the dinosaurs, are headed for extinction. That is simply not true!
While the current climate may not herald good news for journalists, I can tell you there are many publications, particularly niche newspapers and trade magazines that continue to be ravenously hungry beasts with editors and journalists always on the look out for concise, compelling, well-written, and ahem, free content. That is great news for your business!
So where to start? I’ve put together 16 handy insider tips, gleaned from my 30-year career as a journalist, to help you put your best foot forward and get your business noticed. Not only will you gain valuable publicity once the story goes to print – you can share links in blogs, email newsletters and social media, or easily adapt the story to suit each content management platform. Follow these tips for media release success!
Your story must be newsworthy. Ask yourself – is this something people will want to read? Perhaps you have just launched an exciting new product or service, have won an award, or have some advice you can offer about an issue affecting your industry or customers? An insightful story that can provide readers with a direct benefit or help to solve their problems will increase your chance of success. It will also fit best with your online content marketing strategy.
Aim for story length of 300 to 400 words, and no more than 500 words.
Use the upside down triangle method to structure your media release, with the most important and juicy information in the largest third at the top; supporting information in the middle; and general background information about your company at the bottom.
Create a compelling headline. It may be easier to come up with this once the story is written. Perhaps a few words in the story jump out at you?
A snappy introduction that summarises the story is critical to capture the attention of editors or journalists. You might only have 20 words to create a great impression so make them count. Listen to how newsreaders introduce a story on the TV news, or see how journalists start a story in the newspaper to get some ideas.
Use quotes in the media release where possible to provide insight and add a human element to the story, but don’t overdo jargon or technical language, as this will put readers off.
If you have supporting data or facts, include them, particularly if you are describing industry trends.
Never claim you or your company is the ‘best’ in your region or country unless you can quantify it by having won a national or regional award for a product or service, or you have some kind of formal ranking.
Once you have written your release, proof read it thoroughly for spelling and grammatical errors.
At the top of the page write: ‘MEDIA RELEASE – for immediate release’, unless your story is embargoed. In that case write: ‘MEDIA RELEASE – embargoed until (add date)’
Don’t forget to add full contact information at the end, including phone, email, web address and links to any other relevant information that may be useful to journalists. Remember they may use the release as a starting point for a more in-depth story so make it easy for them.
There are no guarantees your media release will be picked up, which is why it is critical it stands out.
A little research into the publications or other media you intend to approach can go a long way. Find out the name of the person you need to contact at each organisation and email them directly. This will usually be the editor of a smaller newspaper, specialist journalist at a major daily, or news producer at radio and television networks. Don’t forget to consider local, regional, and if the story is big enough, national media. Trade magazines can also provide great opportunities.Think about all the magazines you receive at your business and figure out if you could contribute to any of them.
When composing the email, it is a good idea to personalise it to each recipient and write a strong introductory paragraph. Then paste your media release into the email, as well as attaching the file. Journalists can’t always be bothered to open attachments!
Photos can be helpful, but rather than clogging up emails, it can be wise to send a low res screenshot as an example, or advise that you can send high resolution images later if required.
Now you have created your content in your media release, it can be easily adapted to other marketing platforms, such as email newsletters, blogs, or for sharing on social media.
Once your release has been published in print media, or picked up by radio or television, don’t forget to share links to your website and social media platforms.