5 Press Release hacks for the newbie PR professional

Picture this: a reporter, after facing the firing squad that is the daily editorial meet, returns to his desk. His inbox is flooded with press releases from various agencies, highlighting this or that launch and some or the other accomplishment of a company or individual. Our friend, the journalist, is inundated with hundreds of emails. In such a scenario, what does the hapless journalist do? Trash the ones that are worthless, without even reading through them.

Sadly, your press release may end up facing a similar fate. The ubiquitous press release is vital arsenal in your PR strategy, and needs to sparkle if you want to catch said reporter’s attention.

So what are the top 5 content hacks for crafting that perfect press release, you ask? Here’s our list:

  1. The 6 most sacred questions: Address these 6 things – who, what, when, where, why, and how, and you’re sorted. Give the media house enough meat and be extremely clear and upfront about what your press release is about, and that’s half the battle won. Clarify who you are, what you do, and most importantly, why the reader should care.
  2. Quotable quotes: Guide the narrative of your press release by including quotes from key stakeholders – the CEO, executive team, managers – people who are the voice of authority on the story. Even better, back your release up with a solid quote from a celebrity.
  3. Dazzling headline and copy: The perfect headline is clear, crisp and, captivating. It’s worth investing time in crafting a headline that piques your audience’s interest. Similarly, the body copy should have the facts presented succinctly. Remember that reporter we spoke of earlier; the one who receives over a hundred press releases per day? You don’t want to irritate him by making him read pages of information that could have been a précis in a single page. Also pay attention to style and tone. Exclude superfluous language and jargon.
  4. Different pegs for different legs: There’s no guarantee the journalist will pick up your story and publish it with the peg you’ve pitched. Catch his or her attention by presenting an angle – be it social, political, economic, or emotional – that will make news. Explore various themes and different story angles to increase the likelihood of your story being picked up.
  5. Trend alert: This one’s a no-brainer, really. In this constantly-evolving world, it pays to keep up with the latest happenings in your industry. For instance, adding images, videos, and even SlideShares, greatly boosts the readability of your press release. Visual infographic-styled press releases have taken the PR world by storm. Tailor your release for diverse media houses accordingly – for example, a standard press release may work for a print publication, but if you’re targeting a blogger, craft your story creatively and make it even more to the point.

These are some of the ingredients we feel are a must-have in a perfect press release.

Tina Garg is the Founder-CEO of Pink Lemonade. She is also a Goldman Sachs 10,000 Women scholar and Cherie Blair Foundation mentee.

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