“Please think about the journalist you are reaching. S/he is reading 100 PR pitches a day,” Derek Thompson, staff writer, The Atlantic.
Public relations is all about spreading the word and getting your organisation noticed. You know your company is doing amazing things day in, day out, but how do you make sure your target audience knows it, too? Securing coverage in the publications that you know they read is a powerful tool in helping you to reach a wider, valuable audience. But to do that, you must first know how to write a press release that will capture the media’s attention. And let's be honest, crafting a press release that grabs the attention of journalists and editors is easier said than done. But with a bit of thought and planning, while engaging with your PR agency, you can start to make a significant impact on your company’s profile with your target audience.
Here are 9 tips on how to write a press release for media in Ireland:
1. Get the messaging right with the help of your PR agency
Before you even start to think about drafting a press release, it is important to ensure that it fits in with your organisation’s messaging. What narrative are you trying to convey and what are the key messages that are important to highlight in your media outreach? Your PR agency will be able to help you to develop a messaging platform containing key messages that will show your business in the best light and resonate with your target audience. Once you have identified what those messages are, it is important to ensure that they are consistently reflected in your press releases.
2. Understand the purpose and audience of your press release
Remember that for your press release to be successful, it must firstly convince journalists that it is worthy of a story. Think about the kind of stories that the journalists you are targeting typically write and make sure the information and details within your press release will appeal to them specifically. If it doesn’t, then your press release will likely miss the mark.
Simply announcing everything to everyone will confuse your message and may even harm your PR efforts. Communications should have a clear purpose and target in mind, while also being aligned with your messaging platform. For example, if you want to boost your employer brand to attract the best talent, then your press release must support that – perhaps you could announce unique employee benefits such as a four-day week, or report progress on your gender and diversity efforts. A business who wants to generate sales leads, meanwhile, could consider making announcements that showcase their work with customers or innovative new services.
3. Tailor your news to the Irish market
If you want to write a press release for journalists in Ireland, then the news should be relevant to their readers. Even if you are a multinational tech company making a global announcement, try to localise it for the Irish market by demonstrating why the news will be of interest – and have an impact on – your target publications’ readers.
4. Craft a strong headline and opening paragraph
There’s a reason why so many PR professionals were journalists in a previous life; they understand how to write a press release that will grab a reader’s attention in very few words and entice them to read more. Journalists can receive hundreds of emails every day, making it impossible for them to read them all thoroughly. An attention-grabbing headline could be the difference between a journalist opening your email, or scrolling past to the next one.
With this in mind, think about the information that you have for your media announcement, then work with your PR agency to determine if you have a newsworthy angle that you can use to craft a catchy headline, or if you need a better news hook. Along with the headline, the most newsworthy information should be contained in a short opening paragraph that provides more context and any other crucial information that demonstrates the relevance of the press release to the journalist.
5. Who, what, where, when, why and how?
It’s something many of us learned back in our school days, and the basic questions for information-gathering are just as relevant when learning how to write a press release as they were for school creative writing exercises. By asking ‘who, what, where, when, why and how?’ as you are writing your press release, you will avoid information gaps which can be confusing and frustrating for readers. A journalist could be writing five stories or more in a day; make sure they have all of the important information relating to your announcement to-hand. Then, if they would like to delve deeper into the story, you can provide a spokesperson for them to interview.
6. Keep it concise and clear
Regardless of your target publications, press releases should be factual and to-the-point. A journalist should be able to get a sense of the news and supporting facts with just a quick scan of the press release. Save the creative writing for your book publisher!
7. How to write a press release and optimise it for Google
What makes a truly great press release is not just one that gets media coverage on the day, but also one that improves your company’s online visibility, supports backlink building from reputable sources, and improves your search engine ranking for keywords that can drive leads to your website.
Usually, the online publications that you are targeting will be viewed as trustworthy sources by search engines, so should be ranked highly on the search results page. Press releases containing backlinks to your website and relevant keywords can therefore become an important tool in your digital marketing strategy.
8. Use AI… and your brain
We have a confession to make: ChatGPT helped us to write this blog. But, it wasn’t in the way, or to the extent, that we expected. While we gave ChatGPT an outline of our intent for the blog, and provided our website URL along with a brief description of our company, it couldn’t quite manage to come up with a suitable topic, headline, or SEO keyword. We tried different prompts for the AI, different phrasing, less information, more information… to no avail. So, we reverted to our own tried and tested digital strategy for that one.
Once we had the topic and headline, we again consulted ChatGPT and it wrote an entire blog for us, detailing how to write a press release. It was fine – at first glance – and our writer (a former journalist) even started to doubt their own writing ability versus the AI. But once we delved into the language and the messages within the blog, it didn’t quite hit the mark or reflect our company’s message. There were signs of good ideas in there, which we of course borrowed, but the blog itself ended up being written entirely by an old-fashioned human with a human brain.
ChatGPT did help, though. We asked it to come up with appropriate subheadings for the blog, five of which we used. And, when our writer had a mental block on one occasion (two occasions), she asked ChatGPT to make her troublesome sentence sound better – and it did. The writer was then able to edit ChatGPT’s improved sentence to make it sound even better. The result? Human and robot teamwork makes dream work!
AI, certainly, is a helpful – and maybe even indispensable – tool for communications professionals and marketers. But (for now at least) it doesn’t replace the nuances of human language, nor can it represent your company’s message with enough conviction and fluency to write entire press releases or content on your behalf.
9. Engage with your PR agency
We would say this, wouldn’t we? Especially after saying we can write better than a robot can. Your PR agency knows you, it knows the media landscape and it likely has long-running, trusted relationships with the journalists working in it. Successful PR is about collaboration and partnership; it’s about working with a team of professionals who care about your business as much as you do and who have the ideas and knowledge that will put you on the map. By working closely with your PR agency, you will not only be able to write a press release together, but you will also give it the best chance of success.
Do you want to put your company in the spotlight with great press releases? Contact us today to find out how the team at Comit can help.