How to hit the headlines with the perfect press release

February 16, 2021

Much of the news we deliver and digest can start life as a press release – but how can you ensure that yours attracts meaningful coverage and doesn’t end up in the recycling folder?

With social media changing the way many people receive their news, getting your story across in the right way has never been more important in the crowded online world.

With the popular #throwbackthursday cropping up on our weekly feeds, it is certainly acceptable to be a little ‘old school’ when it comes to delivering both traditional and digital PR – with newspapers and magazines still playing an important role in community life.

Former newspaper journalist and PR manager at Media Matters, PR and digital marketing specialists in Peterborough, Cetti Long said: “Having worked in newsrooms for many years before joining the PR side, it was interesting to draw comparisons on good and bad press releases.

“One of the main criteria to getting your business story used is to avoid blatant sales tactics – journalists will see straight through them. Referencing your business more subtly is the better approach.”

Cetti has some tips to perfecting and pitching a story you are passionate about:

  • Powerful and emotive, funny and ridiculous, shocking or sad: whatever the headline, make sure it grabs you or the reader in some way. Make it catchy and to the point
  • Think about your audience. What’s the story – how would you tell it to a friend? How are you going to get your message across?
  • Don’t overwrite! Keep it short and put the most important information at the top. Journalists won’t hesitate to cut your copy to make it fit their space. Add in background information further down the release
  • Include a quote wherever you can – it helps to bring the story alive – whether it is from the company boss launching a new brand, a grateful charity you have donated to or a satisfied customer
  • Attach a photo where possible, together with a caption, even if this is just a head and shoulders image of the person quoted or something linked to your brand. Newsrooms cry out for imagery
  • Where appropriate, add a call to action; eg telephone number or website link. Getting a link back to your website is a great result; better still, a direct call!
  • In the notes to editors include your own contact details. Journalists may require additional information or will want to arrange an interview with your client – help them make that connection
  • Check your copy for any errors
  • Research your media contacts to ensure it reaches the right person. Sending a property story to a sports correspondent is a waste of time. If in doubt, opt for the newsdesk
  • Pitch in your idea. Contact the journalist directly with a short synopsis of your story and all the relevant attachments – it is your chance to ‘get in front of them’
  • The hard work has been done – sit back and wait for the coverage! Set up a free Google alert with relevant search terms, check your media feed online, buy a local newspaper or enlist the services of a media monitoring agency.