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Five Tips for Getting Your Press Release Published

Maybe you think of “feeding the press” like offering a marshmallow to a grizzly bear in Yellowstone National Park. You hope to get your hand back when you’re done! 

Or maybe you’ve submitted a press release and spent days or weeks watching the local paper and television station, hoping to catch a glimpse of your news. 

Dealing with the media needn’t be intimidating, and doing it right can greatly increase the odds of your press release being published. 

Here are five tips to make it simple for you — and for them!

Tip 1: Write like a reporter

If the thought of your high school or college creative writing class makes you break out in a cold sweat, slap on some Right Guard and relax. Writing a press release is not as tough as all that.

Just remember the five W’s and H: who, what, when, where, why and how. Answering those six questions is the bedrock of any good press release.

While you’re at it, add some pyramid power. The inverted pyramid is the practice of putting the most important information at the top with the less important facts trailing along behind.

Don’t forget Joe Friday’s old mantra: “Just the facts, ma’am.” If you need to include qualitative language, put it in a quote and attribute it to someone in your organization.

Tip 2: Be brief

An axiom in writing says that you erect a tent differently than a cathedral. While the Basilica de la Sagrada Familia in Barcelona has been under construction for 137 years, you need to get to the point much more quickly!

State your news right upfront. Don’t make some overworked editor or producer hunt around for it.

Remember, less is more. Get your basic message across, and include the name, phone number and email address of someone they can contact for more information.

Tip 3: The cleaner, the better

This is all about making your press release easy for the media to use, so do the editing for them.

Be sure to spellcheck before sending it out. For grammar help, you can find a number of free resources online.

Also, double-check names, dates and phone numbers, and avoid superfluous, flowery language.

Tip 4: Consider how you send it

Email your press release directly to the person you want to see it, not to some general address that might get checked once or twice a month.

Use a subject line that points out the local information instead of something like “Press Release.” Your media contacts receive dozens of releases every day, and you don’t want yours to get lost.

Unless your mom works in the news media, no one’s going to frame your press release and hang it on the wall, so the format needn’t be fancy. It’s more important that the text can be easily copied and pasted. If you’ve got photos, make them separate jpg attachments.

Tip 5: Consider when you send it

No one cares about yesterday’s news, so be sure to let the media know about events in advance. They can’t cover something that’s already happened.

Don’t send your press release the day of the event or even the day before. Even the news media need time to plan. About a week or two in advance is good.

If your news is about something that’s already happened, like an award or promotion, get it out as quickly as possible, such as within the week.

Once you’ve sent your masterpiece out into the ether, don’t just wave goodbye and forget about it. A follow-up phone call to your media contacts can confirm that they received your release and give them a chance to ask any questions.

These days, local news organizations are stretched to the limit. So, the easier you make it, the greater the chance they’ll actually use your press release — and the greater the chance your message will get across to the public.

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