A great press release can help open your brand up to a whole new audience and connect with your customers. But they can be difficult to write, particularly if you want to cut through the noise and make sure you get coverage.

Journalists don’t have a lot of time and believe me, they receive thousands of press releases. This means that, unless you grab their attention quickly, your press release may just end up straight in the bin.

But how do you get yours noticed?

Here are my eight top tips for grabbing the journalists’ attention and writing the perfect press release:

Find your angle

Before writing anything, you’ll need to find your angle as it will provide a main focus for the story. It’s the perspective that your story will take and will give you the hook that grabs the attention of the reader. Some common angles include:
Does this have any impact on a particular community?
Does it add another argument or offer another side to a conflict?
Does it highlight progress towards a problem?
Does it evoke an emotional response?

Writing a headline

Your headline needs to grab the attention of your audience and shouldn’t be longer than around 12 words. It should briefly summarise the story, ask a question, include a location for a regional release or feature an interesting statistic. Remember not to use clickbait as you’ll only annoy the reader and destroy any trust in any future content.

If you’re struggling to write the headline or the title of your press release, to save time, it might help to do this at the end once you’ve written everything out. You don’t want to waste any time struggling to write parts of the release. If you’re at the end and still can’t figure it out, you could always take a break and it might come to you when you’ve had some space. You could even send a list of potential headlines to some friends or colleagues and see which they think is the most engaging.

Write your lede

The lede is the first paragraph of the press release and shouldn’t be too long. A good rule of thumb is around 30 words or less. Only the most critical information should be included in your lede. This is the angle or the hook to keep your audience interested, and generally answer the five W’s; who, what, when and why (or as many that are relevant). This keeps only the relevant information in your main paragraph and provides a reason for the journalist to care about your story. This could be a link to anything currently happening in the world, anything they’ve previously written about or a reason as to why your story is interesting and needs to be covered right now. To save time, try writing out your five W’s and from this, you can write your lede quickly.

Write the story

For the body you’ll need two to five strong paragraphs of supporting information which should tell the complete story, but in a concise way. Eliminate any fluff as the journalist can add this when they’re writing the story – you just want to give the bones of the story where the journalist can add the meat. To help save time, write out the main points as bullet points and then you can turn these into paragraphs as you go. This will also help eliminate any irrelevant information as you’ll be able to see what doesn’t fit.

Use a quote that adds value

The perfect quote for your press release should serve a purpose; it should either help tell the story or add value. If you can remove the quote and it doesn’t change the story then it’s unnecessary information and should be removed or changed.

Add a note to the editor

This section needs to include contact information for journalists so they can find out more information either on the information in the release or about the company. Make sure to include a name and a point of contact, whether it’s by phone or email. By phone is always best but an email address is fine too.

Next, you should include a short section about the company which includes its name, mission statement, founding dates, company size and any other information that is relevant but doesn’t fit in the press release, so dates and times of events or information about a methodology if you’ve featured survey results.

To save time, have this as a template that you can copy and paste into the end of each release. This information doesn’t tend to change much so having it ready as a template will save time on any future releases.

Use the inverted pyramid method to make the process smoother

When writing a press release I like to follow the inverted pyramid method to help provide a structure and make the process much smoother. Once you have the structure, it makes it easier to write the press release as you know what you need to include and when. Using this method also helps hook readers and enables you to get your point across quickly.

This format means you put your most important and newsworthy information first. This includes the five W’s – what, when, why, who and where and should always be in the top two paragraphs. Next, you’ll have your secondary details including other significant pieces of information and any quotes and then at the end you’ll include additional information. This would include a boilerplate copy, any information they might need to know about times or dates if it’s an event along with contact details for further information.

Craft the perfect pitch

Crafting the perfect pitch can be tough but this is probably the most important, as it’s what the journalist will see before they even reach your press release. You don’t want the email to go straight to the bin before your story has even been seen. Journalists get thousands of emails a day and sometimes only have time to read the subject line, so this is key when it comes to pitching. Make sure it’s similar to a headline – it needs to be concise but highlight your main angle. If they don’t think it’s for them or they’re too busy, and your subject line isn’t engaging enough, your email may simply be deleted or ignored.

I find a/b testing a different set of subject lines can work with bigger campaigns and also tweaking the subject line to suit the journalists’ style or the publication they write for. This can be time-consuming but a well-targeted campaign is always better than a ‘spray and pray approach’ – where you send the same pitch to hundreds of journalists. You should also read their previous work and if possible, refer to those articles in the pitch along with how your story is relevant to them in the first couple of lines – showing that you’ve taken the time to check what they cover and how your pitch fits.