11 things you can do to make your press release stand out

Journalists are busy people with inboxes flooded with press releases. Eleven ideas to help your press release to stand out from the rest.
Make your press release stand out from the crowd


One thing I don’t enjoy doing is writing press releases. It is a dance that PRs and journalists have not let go. They’re a lazy form of communication.

Take a breaking news story. Say, a policy announcement. Here’s a fairly typical scenario: the government is dealing with a problem that needs attention. They set up a committee and that committee takes submissions on how to solve the problem. Months later the committee makes its recommendations to the government. Interested groups wait and wait for the government announce what they are going to do.

Then, they make an announcement. ‘Print’ journalists start writing the story (if they haven’t been briefed already), PRs fire out media releases, journalists check inboxes to see what the various groups are saying in reaction, one or two quotes are dropped into the story and its published online in quick time.

The press release almost always has quotes that no one has ever said. What happens is the PR writes some words, sticks them inside quotation marks, attributes them to someone in the organisation and that’s what people read in the paper. Newspapers are filled with them.

But, one hundred years after the first press release[1], they still have their place. You should send a press release when:

  1. there is an announcement and you feel you have to be publicly on the record,
  2. you have some agreement (perhaps funding) that requires you to send a press release, or
  3. you’re launching a product and there are blogs and news websites hungry for content.

In other cases it’s better to have a good relationships with journalists that are a phone call away. That’s the single most effective way to get a story placed or your position published.

If you decide you need to send a press release here are some principles follow.

1. Keep it short

Journalists are busy and don’t have the time to read more than a few hundred words. They need to understand your position — no more than that. Keep your press release to 250-300 words. Never send a press release that runs more than a page. Don’t cheat by dragging margins and making the type smaller. That will make sure your release gets binned.

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