1995-2020: Celebrating 25 Years of Getting Clients Noticed
Founder, EASTWEST PR and Host of the SPEAK|pr Podcast
EASTWEST PR has reached 25 years, and so it’s our jubilee anniversary, and that’s one not to be squandered from a PR point of view. Years and years ago, writing press releases was what EASTWEST PR did as an agency day in, day out. It’s my own story, so I’m really the best person to tell it.
The basics of writing a press release
Coming to the practicalities of writing a press release, first of all, one needs to have background information. The media get lots of press releases every day, but majority of them don’t make the cut, as journalists are looking for something special, something that’s going to resonate with their readers and make their own publications stand out above the others. They’re not interested in hyperbole and opinion. They’re interested in facts, because that’s what interests their readers. To assess a headline’s quality and strength, there is the Headline Keyword Planner Tool, and this is really helpful because a headline needs to be relevant and attention-seeking for the readers and SEO bots, and this is the art or magic of writing.
The next part is writing the press release itself, which isn’t as easy as it might seem. A press release should usually not be longer than 700 words. The opening paragraph should explain the entire story, so that readers can understand the entirety of it. It would be wise to send it out two days before the event itself, so that if anyone’s interested in an interview or a story, there’s enough time for that. The second paragraph is often called the standfirst, because it is the “meat and potatoes” of the story. The third paragraph gives a little bit more detail, and then the fourth one could contain a quote or inspiring message and why this is newsworthy. The next paragraph would be customer or partner testimonials for the brand, and the last paragraphs would give some industry context: the nature of this industry, the size, and the growth along with statistics that make the story resonate and give the journalist who may not understand the industry a sense of why this is important to people other than you. For the final paragraph, give a conclusion and put the media contacts, such as your contact details or the agency’s. It’s often worth using an alias for the email address (e.g. firstname.lastname@example.org) to reduce the amount of spam that a personal email will get, because once the press release goes online, if the media channels do issue the press release in its entirety, the email address will be picked up by spam bots.
Press release distribution and pitching to the media
In summary, press releases form the bread and butter of the public relations work. They are the preferred medium of choice for journalists, because it’s easy for them to file and easy for them to read. It’s essential, therefore, to learn how to write press releases or to outsource that by hiring journalists or freelance writers on sites like Upwork so that the central tenant of your public relations activities is to issue out cogent and well-researched press releases accompanied by compelling pitches.