Tips for a cut-through press release

 Image credit:  Wired

Image credit: Wired

As we mentioned in our recent post on pitching, journalists get absolutely slammed when it comes to pitches. Even small or niche publishers may receive hundreds of email pitches a day - so when it comes to getting your pitch right, a press release that cuts through the noise is crucial.

As both a copywriter and an editor, I sit on both sides of the fence. On the one hand, it’s important to have a document that succinctly tells journos what you believe is newsworthy about your pitch, who is involved and what is the impact - but on the other hand, there are a lot of rubbish pitches that come across my desk as an editor. Every. Damn. Day.

Building on Sarah’s tips for getting your pitch right, here’s my advice for crafting a press release that is all killer, no filler.


1. Be clear on why the audience should care

If you want your audience to pay attention to your news you need to ensure your message clearly demonstrates why people should care. Is it truly new or different? Does it reveal something or add new information? Does it involve high profile people? Will it impact at an industry level or high profile companies? Is it topical or in line with global trends? These are all types of story hooks - the reason people read a release. Make sure you have this down pat before you start writing.

2. Get the subject line right

It might seem simple, but the subject line of your press release is your most valuable real estate. If the subject line isn’t immediately interesting, there’s a good chance the journalist won’t read the rest of the release. Coming back to the above step, make sure this key message is communicated in your subject line, and the story hooks are made obvious from the get-go.

3. Keep it simple

As Sarah mentioned in her pitching blog, brevity is key. While you might be tempted to include all the juicy details or ‘fluff up’ the copy to sound as impressive as possible, this is actually taking the attention away from the core of the release - the reason the audience should care. Keep it as succinct as possible, remembering interested media will ask for further detail. Generally speaking, less than a page is a good body copy length to work towards, including any quotes.

4. Include snappy quotes from relevant spokespeople

Whether you have one spokesperson or five, at least a couple of strong quotes from notable individuals involved in the release will give journalists more to work with for their stories and help turn the release into engaging editorial content. Make sure the quotes actually sound like someone talking (avoid jargon and long statements) and that the spokespeople have a clear link to the release.

5. Get your supporting materials right

Don’t let your release down with subpar materials. To support your main message, make sure you have all your supporting information included and easily accessible (eg; Dropbox folder link) in the release. Supporting material generally includes visuals, media kit, founder biographies and press contacts, but it could include more depending on your story. Make sure it’s all there so when the interest is there, the journalist can easily get what they need.

Happy pitching! If you’re a founder and would like to learn more about marketing and PR for your startup, join our free workshops with LaunchVic to get strategic advice and hands-on input to your marketing and PR approach. More information here.