A media release is a great way to get publicity for your event, petition, issue or story. But first you have to make sure it gets noticed, and that can be tough when there’s so much competition out there.
Unless you write and present your media release carefully, it could end up in a bin beside the fax machine instead of making it to the front page of your local newspaper.
Work on your pitch
Give some thought to your angle:
- What’s going to make it stick out when there’s so much information around?
- What’s the hook to get people involved?
- Why would a newspaper editor pick up the story and read it?
- What makes the general reader remember your story?
Put it in the right format
Make it easy for the media to recognise what you’ve sent them. A typical media release:
- Fits on one page
- Has a clear heading, e.g. "MEDIA RELEASE"
- Has a clear topic or headline
- Indicates if the story can run straight away, e.g. "For Immediate Release", or must be held until a specific date, e.g. "Embargoed Until...."
- Includes contact details for follow up questions
Create a headline with impact
The headline of the article is usually bolded and underlined. Don't be too tricky with the headline, you want it to grab attention not create confusion.
Keep it short and sweet
It’s important to write something that’s plain and direct:
- Keep your sentences brief and sharp
- Use language that’s accessible and clear
- Think about how it will suit different audiences
- Don't use jargon, acronyms and academic lingo
Start with the good stuff
Order your points from most important to least important. The first couple of paragraphs are essential, as these are the ones that will sway the editor or journalist to run with the story, or not. So don't leave your best until last or it’ll be lost forever!
Back up your claims
Use quotes, facts or statistics to bring some credibility to the story. But make sure you’re confident that all the facts are reliable and that the source of the quotes is rock solid.
Don’t leave out important details
Include everything someone needs to know to find out more. If you’re running an event, make sure you include (and bold highlight) details such as:
- Time and date
Don't forget to include your contact details at the end, including a website if you have one ready.
Check, and check again
Read, re-read, get a friend to read it too to make sure it makes sense and is accurate. Make sure you’ve spelt everything correctly. It’s embarrassing to realise that you’ve got the spelling wrong, after it’s gone out to the public.
Don’t be late
There are different times of day when a media release can be more or less effective. If you send it at the wrong time you might miss the deadline altogether. It helps to ring ahead first and find out when the daily deadlines are for papers, particularly if you are urgently trying to get your story heard.
Send it to the right person
Find out who usually receives media releases in an organisation. It might be the chief of staff in a newspaper or the producer of a radio show or television program.