How To Write A Press Release That Gets Noticed

How To Write A Press Release That Gets Noticed

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As much as the media seems in a state of flux these days the one thing that remains is the need for an organization to disseminate it’s story. Despite the many options via social sharing, the one stable constant is the press release. Proper usage of the press release, remains paramount to get the media’s attention.

While it is rare that a media outlet will use your press release verbatim you can be sure that not following the standards will get your press release tossed into the trash.

In the 25 years I worked in radio, it was a daily task (or toil) to go through the press releases I received. I would often make snap judgment calls because I just didn’t have the time, sometimes without even opening the envelope or reading the email.

Press Release Guidelines

Here are the guidelines you should follow to assure your press release will get noticed and more importantly get your organization noticed:

  1. Keep it to one page – The point of the press release is to peak the interest of the media outlet, writing your entire life story isn’t going to do the job. It will bore them if they even read it at all. Give them one basic thought or idea and a call to action for more information. That’s it.
  2. Use proper formatting – As a broadcaster/reporter rushes through the day’s pile of press releases they need to see what they expect to see in a scanable way. Make it easy for them by including these  9 elements:
    1. For Release Date – right at the top of your press release, is the release date or time. Sometimes there is a reason to withhold information until a certain time, mark that date and time here. If it’s for immediate release mark it as “For Immediate Release”.
    2. Contact Information – put your name and contact information right below the release date info. Make it easy to contact you to get more information or to set up an interview. Use the heading “For More Information”.
    3. The Headline – is by far THE most important part of the press release. Without a good headline, no curiosity will be generated to dig deeper into the story. Write several headlines, come back to them later in the day and see which one grabs your attention the most.
    4. Dateline – is what goes just before the story. Put the location and the date of the release, followed by a dash (-) and then begin the body of your release. It can be bolded or put in between brackets but should stand out as not part of the story.
    5. First Paragraph – now that you’ve hooked them with your headline, tell them what you’re going to tell them in the first paragraph. Don’t get flowery with your writing, tell them the facts to support your headline. More details will come in the second paragraph. Beyond that let them contact you for more information. Remember this release needs to be one page only.
    6. Quotes – beyond the headline and the first paragraph include quotes from the important people around your story. Put simply, quotes bring the story to life by putting real people into the action.
    7. A Call to Action – should fall to the bottom of your content as a final push for them to contact you for more information or to setup an interview with you or with the personality of the press release. Whatever you do, do not hype your organization here. The point is for the reader to take ‘action’ like visit the website for more information or contact you. Hyping or selling here will get you tossed.
    8. The Boilerplate – is a concise paragraph about your company. It’s an old newspaper term to describe a “block” of text that would be used over-and-over again. 2 sentences should suffice.
    9. End of Content Marker – (# # #) is an old print media sign that there is “no further copy to come”. Other ways to mark the end is:  -30- , XXX (Roman numerals for 30) or simply -END-. There is no logical reason to include these today, but can be seen as a respectful tip of the hat, signaling that you know what you’re doing and can be trusted.
  3. Send it to the right person – Know your audience. Sending a press release about your new fleet of trucks to a light rock music radio station will get tossed and a guarantee that anything you send after that won’t even get opened. Build your media list carefully and diligently remembering that people change jobs. Keep it up to date.
  4. Follow up – Wait a day or two after you know the press release was received and send an email or make a phone call to your list. See if they have any questions or would like to set up an interview. Don’t ask them “did you get it”…”did you read it”. The key here is to be a resource to help them do their job. Think of it as a partnership.

Include Pictures

If you’re dealing with print media, you may want to include a link to high res pictures they can use.

NOTE: If you’re looking for wider distribution than just your local market I suggest using PR Web. In a head to head comparison with eReleases done by Soulati Media, PR Web was found to give greater online exposure.

Bottom Line: Mastering the art of the press release will give you the media canvas you need to build your organization’s brand identity.

Writing Tools To Help You Communicate Better

Writing Tools To Help You Communicate Better

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When it comes to writing style I don’t consider myself a “traditionalist”. Two things that I insist on when writing is spelling and punctuation. Both of these things have improved by using two apps on a regular basis: Hemingway and Grammarly.

If you’re writing a script for a commercial, a TV promo, an ebook, blog post or any form of online social media, these two tools will make sure you stay on track.

Grammarly – is more than a spell checker. It checks your grammar, spelling and plagiarism (premium version only)! You read that right. According to their website, “Grammarly’s plagiarism checker crosschecks your text against over 8 billion web pages, detecting plagiarized passages and highlighting sections that have been previously published elsewhere”. Another plagiarism checker is Unplag. Learn about their free plagiarism checker here.

The web browser plugin checks that comments or posts are grammatically correct.

Grammarly is available for free as a plugin on Chrome, Safari and Firefox.

Hemingway – is a web tool where you simply cut and paste your document and get instant feedback. Sentence structure and phrasing, even passive voice alerts are included.

My personal preference is running my text through Grammarly and then taking it to Hemingway for final touches.

Try them and let me know what you think!

BONUS: If you’re writing a timed text for a commercial or explainer video try the David Tyler Script Timer by clicking here.

It’s Not About the Medium Anymore…

It’s Not About the Medium Anymore…

Radio Is Dead

Radio Is Dead

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I remember the scene vividly. It was the Christmas episode of WKRP called “Bah, Humbug” (Episode 0052 to be exact) a WKRP version of ‘A Christmas Carol’. In the episode Mr. Carlson is haunted by the three ghosts of Christmas past, present and future. Dr. Johnny Fever, as the ghost of Christmas future, shows Mr. Carlson that the station has become totally automated, in fact Herb, who has taken to talking to himself is the only employee left. At the time I saw this I wasn’t working in radio but thought, ‘what a sad thing to happen’!

Well folks get your bags and get ready to disembark because we have arrived at Christmas future! While it takes more than one person to run our radio stations our on air product has become as homogenous as a computer chip generated playlist could make it. We only play the songs that have been tested and we only test the songs that are already being played by everyone else, not wanting to ‘take a chance’ on an unproven song. The focus of our marketing is on the morning show because that’s the only live, local part of our day…if that. To make it worse new radio talent isn’t being developed or can’t be developed because of the state of radio. Does this really mean that radio is dead? Not necessarily.

The Future
What radio has failed to learn are the tricks that marketers have been using for decades, despite having the concepts poured out right in front of us in the form of national commercials. So what can we learn from them? Simply put, ‘Branding’!

Understand How Your Audience Sees You
McDonalds made a mistake when it introduced the ‘adult meal’ because they forgot how their customers saw them…as a restaurant for kids. While it made sense for them to introduce a McMeal for adults, after all it is adults who are bringing their children to eat at the golden arches.

Speak To Your Audience
Back in the days when there were no other real entertainment options it was easy for radio to take itself too seriously, believing listeners to be mere minions cowering beneath powerful broadcast towers. Well, it’s not so much like that anymore. Speak to your listeners in a human voice, both in your promos and imaging as well as your live on-air presentations. As often as possible include the listeners point of view in your promos. Stop trying to “sell” your listener and talk to them as an equal.

Stay Focused
Whenever you sit down to write promos/liners keep your ‘brand’ in mind and never stray from the vision of who your listeners believe who you are.

One of the advantages we have over the Coca-Cola’s of the world is that we ARE a broadcast medium. So why don’t we use that to our advantage?

Branding your radio station should be the singular focus of your ‘anti-Christmas Future’ efforts to increase market share and to make yourself stand out as a viable entertainment option for your audience. Here’s one last thought to help motivate you: imagine your sales director running your radio station, alone from a single computer terminal…scary thought? Get to work on your brand quick!

Why Fit In When You Can Stand Out

Why Fit In When You Can Stand Out

YOU'RE ALMOST THERE!

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