What to include (and not include) on your press release

From never using the word ‘delighted’ to always saying ‘thank you’, Kirsty Nelms, account manager for marketing agency Purple Sprout, gives top tips for writing press releases

What to include (and not include) on your press release

25th April 2019

Blog

4 minute read

All
writers start with the basics; write what you know, be clear and
concise, tell the story. That means answering the who, what, why, when,
where, how. Sounds simple, right?

As
a journalist who has turned to ‘the dark side’, I’ve read a lot of
press releases and I’ve seen some things *stares blankly into the
distance*. As a result, I’ve learnt to drink cold coffee, stay awake
during long late-night meetings and write a press release that doesn’t
end up getting spiked (which in this context means satisfyingly
deleted).

So
here’s some advice, the majority of which will be obvious to many of
you out there, but evidently some of these things are worth pointing
out…


Location, Location, Location

Before
making the switch to PR, I’d answer a call on deadline to be met with
the squeaky voice of some perky junior PR exec and they’d reel off some
spiel about “a really interesting story” concerning something completely
irrelevant to our patch. Curiously enough, if the publication features
the name of a town or county in its title, it’s probably because it
covers that area and isn’t in the least bit interested in events
occurring 150 miles away. Funny that.


Use pics well

For
the love of whatever deity or values you hold highly, please include
captions for images and only attach those which are relevant to the
story. I was once sent a photo of a child holding what I could only
assume was a prized vegetable, attached to a press release about nothing
of the sort. Seriously, no explanation, no name for the child, no
context whatsoever.

That’s
when you actually get images in the first place. Don’t even get me
started on those emails which read ‘high resolution images available
upon request’ – with no images attached at all. If you have some images,
attach them to the press release or send them a Dropbox link and the
journalist will soon tell you if they need higher res. If you’ve got a
portrait and a landscape option, you’re basically a hero.


Drop ‘delighted’

A
true sign of a lazily-written quote is the use of the word ‘delighted’,
especially when speaking about something relatively mundane. Go ahead,
Google “delighted” and click news; there’s an awful lot of people going
around being delighted.


Giant cheques

Don’t.


Capping random WORDS

Firstly,
I hate the use of all caps, unless it’s a conscious design decision. I
always read caps as SHOUTING, so if you’re using a lot of all caps in
your press release you are in fact shouting at the reader like an
American car salesman. The capping up of random words is also guaranteed
to give journalists a crazed eye twitch.


Be patient

Journalists,
or what’s left of them, are very busy, overworked and jumped up on
caffeine. They may bite. Due to constant redundancies they are probably
each doing the jobs of about five people: senior reporter, sub editor,
photographer, entertainments reporter, digital reporter – and
unfortunately in this plane of existence it’s physically impossible to
be in more than one place at once. So please don’t get arsy with them
when they can’t cover your event in person or if they don’t immediately
use your press release or can’t attend your press trip. Instead, be sure
to send things at least two weeks in advance, or ASAP if your story is
about something which has just happened – if you can squeeze enough
information out of your client!


Say thank you

People
seem to have this feeling of entitlement when they speak to
journalists, who are in no way obligated to tell your story or sort your
life out. If a journalist does manage to spare some time in their
hectic day to actually use your press release, a little thank you goes a
long way.


Written by Kirsty Nelms, account manager for marketing agency

Purple Sprout



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