Every business generates publishable news about their company, their products, or their people, you just have to know how to tell the story.
The key is to write a media release that the targeted media is likely to use.
Choose a news outlet to target for media releases
You should start by selecting a target news outlet and learn what type of stories they use. Find out what news your business generates that would be suitable for them.
If a particular journalist writes on that subject, even better, as you can give them a call and tell them about the story you have in mind. Journalists like calls from readers, listeners or viewers as it provides them with valuable feedback. What they do not like are calls that tell them about the story but also tell them that the caller never reads their paper, or listen to their radio station.
Follow the four Ws and H of news writing
The construction of a media release is the same as for a news story. As a 16 year old cadet journalist I was taught that you have to cover the four Ws, Why, What, Where, When and How in the first paragraph, so that the story is cuttable from the bottom. This is an easy formula to follow as most of your stories are likely to be about news events.
Send your story to your targeted journalist and leave a couple of days before making a follow up contact.
Keep your media releases clear and concise
Although the four WWs and How is an easy formula to remember, it is amazing how many people forget. Some years ago, in the pre-email era, when I was editing the National Public Relations Magazine, stories had erupted in the trade media about the poor quality of media releases that were irritating to journalists.
To give us an angle on the story, I asked then editor of the Australian Women’s Weekly Ita Buttrose to save me all the releases they received for a month and give them to me, as they had a firm rule not to use any releases. I think from memory there was about 500 and I asked some of our most junior consultants to go through them and make an assessment. Out of the 500 only about five were usable and many of them broke that golden rule of telling about an upcoming event, but neglecting to say where or when it was being held.
Emails have exacerbated the problem by making it easy to send the same awful media releases to more hapless journalists. In fact, the volume has now been reached that emails, except to a selected target journalist who is expecting the story, are virtually useless as a means of communication.
If you’d like to see how a targeted news release, written on the formula I have outlined, can be successful, check out the media releases of my client Green Distillation Technologies.