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

2. Write a killer headline (subject line)

Journalists receive hundreds of emails every day. Make yours stand out with a killer subject line. That’s your headline. If the journalist doesn’t know who you are it’s the best way to get their attention. Take this imaginary example of a government announcing $1 billion to eradicate homelessness:

  • Bad: [Organisation name] welcomes the government’s decision to increase funding for homeless services
  • Good: 100,000 people ready for a good night’s sleep

The first headline is the formulaic type that many organisations use. Press releases like this are a dime a dozen. The second one is punchy and more likely to grab attention. Get creative. A good rule of thumb is to spend as much time crafting your headline as you do writing the release.

3. Answer the who, what, when, where, why and how in the first paragraph

A journalist needs to know what your press release is about and if it will help them write their story. If your headline got their attention, your first paragraph needs to keep it. Most news stories answer the who, what, where, when, why and how in what is known as the lead/lede. Your press release should do the same. Keep it to 30-40 words.

  • Bad: [Organisation name] welcomes the news that $1 billion is being put towards eradicating homelessness. The number of homeless people is growing and something had to be done before the problem got out of control.
  • Good: [Organisation name] says being homeless could be a thing of the past with the announcement by Housing Minister [name] today. The $1 billion for affordable housing gives people like [name] in Sydney hope that his nights sleeping rough are numbered.

The first lead/lede is dull and says very little. The second lead says a lot: who (organisation’s name, minister name, person sleeping rough), what (fixing homelessness), when (today), where (Sydney), why (people are sleeping rough) and how (building affordable housing).

Not only that, it inserts the ‘voice’ of someone directly affected by the news.

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