By Aisling McCarthy

When writing your press release, you need to consider who you are sending it to and how you ensure that they read and, subsequently, publish it. There are some key elements which can ensure that your work has the best possible chance of being published.

Focus on the subject line

Remember, when sending out a press release, the first line of contact you have is your email subject line. Ensuring that this is simple, to the point, and highlights your news angle is imperative.

Writing for Vertical Leap, Steve Masters says that it is important to remember that the subject line in your email does not need to tell the story, but it needs to tell the recipient why they should open the email.

Masters continues, saying that you should never use all capitals as it comes across as shouting, making editors and journalists want to ignore your email. You should, however, use trigger words to encourage interest and keep your subject line relatively short, putting the key point at the beginning.

Data journalist Lesley Lassister says that what’s more important than a good subject line, is one which is accurate.

“A valid subject line is crucial. One that is bad might still get read. One that is misleading will make me mad and I’ll just delete with no response.”

Check your writing style

Jenny Griesel, CEO of Jenny Griesel Communications, says that when putting together a press release, the writing style, grammar, and spelling should all be top priorities. Mistakes in these areas can cause your release to be ignored, as it makes your writing much harder to read.

“Double, triple check your spelling and grammar. [Remember that] the writing style should always be aligned to the brand [you are representing].”

Remember that your writing is a reflection of yourself – so if your press release is marred with errors, it reflects poorly on your ability to do your job. Griesel also highlights the importance of writing with purpose. Keep in mind that no one wants to read something overly long – get to the point and do it quickly.

“Press releases should never be too long or too wordy. Nobody should have to feel like they have to read an essay to get to the gist of what you are trying to say.”

Irene Von Buddenbrock, account manager at McD Squared, says that it pays to be bold. In order to stand out from the rest, you have to take a chance sometimes.

“Stop doing the same old thing over and over again expecting different results – be bold in your approach, tell a good story and make sure that you do things differently. “

Ensure you reach out to the right market

Sending out press releases to the wrong target market is a waste of everyone’s time. Ensuring you are reaching out to the right channels can create good relationships with the media, as well as increasing your chance of being published.

Von Buddenbrock says that there are two target markets to consider when putting out a release. Firstly, there is the journalist or publication you target to publish your story and, secondly, there is the publication’s readership.

“These two audiences are interlinked and research must be done to find out if the story will resonate with the readers and whether the journalist will see it as something valuable to his or her readers.”

Griesel says that it is vital to find out who your client wants to reach and to try and match that with the media who services that particular audience.

“Focus on what you want the person reading it to notice or remember. Get straight to the point. Write it in a tone that will be appreciated by the target market, in case it does gets placed verbatim.”

Keep it relevant

Von Buddenbrock says that the most poignant element is the “so what?” question. When people receive your press release, there has to be a reason behind it. Why should people care about this particular person or event?

“If you have nothing new to say, don’t say anything at all. Refrain from sending out releases for the sake of it and don’t assume that because it is important to your client’s organisation, it will be important to the broader market.”

Griesel says that a good news hook is paramount. Editors hate promotion, so having a good news angle will help to make your work more marketable.

“Find the newness and highlight the uniqueness of the project. Every project does, or should, have something special. Focus on that and build on it.”

Finally, Von Buddenbrock says that, often, clients put pressure on their PR consultant and want things to be done in a specific way, but this does not necessarily reap the desired rewards. She says that, as a PR consultant, it is imperative to do the best for your client and guide them in the right direction.

“We often answer to people who do not fully understand the media and the industry … First and foremost, be a consultant to your clients.”

Read more about clients and PR consultants’ relationships in our article, Seven ways clients unintentionally inhibit their PR.

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