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

Matthew Stibbe suggests the Grandmother test[2]:

Try writing a letter to your grandmother explaining why the news in the press release is important. Bingo, there’s your opening paragraph.

It’s good advice.

4. Include quotes

Quotes are essential. The journalist needs quotes for their story. Include two or three quotes. Put your most important quote after the lead. Close with your next strongest. Where possible get these from the person you’re attributing it to. Authenticity will make them stronger.

5.Kill jargon, destroy superlatives

If your audience doesn’t understand what you’re talking about they will tune out. Kill jargon.

If they read terms like ‘best ever’, ‘greatest’ and ‘amazing’ their BS filter goes crazy and your email is deleted. Destroy superlatives.

6. Include contact details and Twitter handle

A radio or TV journalist can’t copy and paste your quote like a print journalist. Ensure that you include the contact details of the spokesperson who is available. Include their name, position or title and phone number. Don’t give a landline number if they spend a lot of time away from their desk. Use their mobile number. Lots of journalists use Twitter so include your spokesperson’s Twitter handle.

7. Proofread

You need to look professional. If you write ‘pubic’ instead of ‘public’ you will want to catch that before hitting send.

8. Be timely

For breaking announcements you need to have a press release in journalist’s inbox within 30 minutes. If you’re prepared it’s possible to do this. Draft two versions prior — one for a positive announcement, one for a negative. Spend that 30 minutes adapting it to make sure it’s accurate. Yes, make up the quote if you have to.

If you’ve been briefed in advance on something that will be announced later, and you’ve checked it’s ok to do so, send a release to the journalists covering the story before their deadline. Send it under embargo so the journalist knows not to jump the gun.

9. Rewrite it for your website

Press releases are for journalists. Chances are they are not your primary website audience. Rewrite the press release if you want to publish it to your website. Make it interesting enough for people to share and search engines to discover.

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