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Thursday, August 13, 2020

This is How to Write a Media Release

The media landscape has altered dramatically over the past ten years or more, with the introduction of social media, blogging, podcasts and streaming services. So too the publishing industry with print magazines falling by the wayside and books by self-published authors, booming.

Entrepreneurship and the rise of celebrity influencers has ensured the communications industry is alive and well overall. Impression management is an age-old art with agents, managers, stylists, publicists and more working to transform, create awareness and build the personal brand of their client. And it is as relevant then as it is now.

For any brand or business, getting a new book, product or service noticed takes quite a considerable amount of marketing and publicity effort.

Did you know that publicity is supposedly seven times more effective than advertising? And it is free – that is if you do it yourself. If you know the elements of writing a good media release to capture the attention of journalists, you can cash in on no cost editorial coverage. And isn’t that ideal for that extra push for your product?

Here are a few tips on writing a media release.

The Beginning

The first and most important thing is to have something interesting to say. Consider your USP – just like in sales. It’s your unique selling proposition. After all publicity is “selling”. You are selling a story idea to the media. I like to call it the unique shining point. It really needs to stand out, shine, be compelling – not an advertisement, not a boring product plug.

Another element that will really hook the journalist in, is to consider the ESP the emotional selling point. Often it is the human element in the story that will capture the reader’s attention therefore the attention of the media. Think about what your story is. What is your background? Have you overcome any obstacles to get where you are today? Any achievements or milestones? Where is the human interest?

WIFM

What’s in it for me? Or what is in it for them. How does your product or service help others? Your media release needs to state that key element. How will the reader benefit?

It’s uninteresting to just say, “Jones & Smith Accountants today announced the launch of their revolutionary new accountancy software package …better to state – small businesses now have a better way to measure, monitor and manage the costs involved in running their business, thanks to Jones & Smith’s new online measurement & analysis accounting system.

The Heading

Write a catchy headline with a short, punchy phrase. Observe how headings are written in newspapers and magazines. You need to grab the reader’s attention. Your headline and information also need to stand out when emailed. Use a compelling subject heading or the journalist will simply hit delete. Make it enticing.

The Content

Have a bright opening; start with your strongest point first. Instead of the conventional “today announced that” lead, you should make your release stand out from the crowd with a strong, compelling lead paragraph.

As editors and journalists get so many releases every day, you only have seconds to grab their attention. The first paragraph is where your important information goes but it needs to be written in an exciting, creative, interesting way.

Consider the 5 W’s – Who, What, When, Where, Why; This is an easy formula to remember when writing your release but it is still not enough without some “zing” or "wow", compelling elements to “hook” the reader in.

Again – how does it help? Remember the benefit to the reader and perhaps include some “how to” tips on whatever your product or service is.

Use memorable quotes; either of you or someone well-known who can endorse your product. Quotes are often used by the media as they make the story more “real” or personal. A good quote can include why you’ve started this business or developed your product or how it helps your target audience.

I’m often asked to quote for articles in the media. A recent example is How to Dress to Impress Like a Politician. Along with other people working in the personal branding field, we were asked to contribute to an article by the Daily Mail on how Australia’s leaders have transformed their appearance and ‘branding’ since Coronavirus began.

The Format

Title it “Media Release” and always include the date. Include your contact details of telephone, mobile, email and website address. When using email, cut and paste into the body of the email – don’t send an attachment. Or add it as well as in the body.

The Contact

Send your release to the appropriate person – be sure to do your research. Check that the “food editor” is still just that and not now the “finance editor”. Find out the name of the person and their direct email.

Always follow up with a phone call or email and keep your media liaison consistent. If you provide good information you are not a nuisance, you are providing a service. Journalists and editors need our information to fill their newspapers, magazines and radio shows.

Supply a creative photo or suggest a photo opportunity that will add to the impact of having your information publicised.

Gaining publicity in the media will help you become known as an expert in your business field; it will enhance your brand and reputation and help you to grow your business.

I write in more detail about media in Publicist to the Star, Chapter Eight of IMPRESSario, Present and Promote the Star Within You. Purchase your copy here.

Learn more about defining your "hook" or message with the free video series, NOOK, LOOK, HOOK 3 Steps to Build a Stand Out Personal Brand.   

Sue Currie is a speaker and the author of IMPRESSario, Present and Promote the Star Within You. She is recognised as a leading authority on personal branding to boost image, profile, brand and business. Through her image management and profile building programs, workshops, consulting, keynote and online presentations, Sue helps businesses and entrepreneurs position and present an influential professional brand.

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