Monday, July 6, 2009

20 Tips for Crafting a Successful Media Release

20 Tips for Crafting a Successful Media Release

1. Use the term "media release" or "news release" instead of "press release." There are many forms of media now (e.g. radio, TV, magazine, newspaper, Internet), and the term "press" is passe. Some editors are touchy about this - so there's no reason to get on their bad side. Just learn to adapt your language.

2. Make sure you are submitting a news release about something newsworthy!

3. Be sure to use the 5 C's of strong writing by making your language: clear, compelling, concise, consistent, and correct.

4. Be judicious about your use of jargon and acronyms in your media release. The only time this might be appropriate is for a release you send to a trade magazine, but even then, use discretion. You don't want your otherwise-effective release tossed in the trash because the first person to read it does not have a clue what you are talking about.

5. Write in third person, even if you're writing about yourself.

6. Use a quotation from someone connected to the subject you are promoting in your relase, even if it's your own quote.

7. Double-space the release and keep it short - 300 to 500 words MAX.

8. Put your CONTACT INFO on your release. This seems like a no-brainer, but you would not believe the number of news releases that might actually have generated stories, if only the person submitting had remembered to put their name, phone number, and e-mail address on the release.

9. Find out how the media outlet(s) you're approaching prefers to receive their releases: in the body of e-mail, as e-mail attachments, or via fax (yes, some people still prefer this method!).

10. If you do send an e-mail, be specific in your Subject Line - perhaps using the headline from your release. You've got perhaps 10 seconds to make an impression. The subject line must have a strong hook.

11. Get your release to the proper editor or producer (i.e., don't send a story about your satin slipper business to the sports editor).

12. Allow enough lead time (generally 2 to 4 weeks - but it's up to you to research this for the particular media outlet you are contacting).

13. Do NOT call to "check whether they got your release." This is virtually guaranteed to get your release tossed in the trash.

14. You may, however, call back to add further details to your release. All you've actually done is held back some bit of important info from the original release, but when you call, you present it as though it is an added development. IF the added info is important enough, and IF you handle it correctly, this quite often will move your release to the top of the pile, or you will be asked to re-send it.

15. If you're absolutely convinced you have something the media will want to report on but they're not calling you back, pick up the phone and call them about your story. It's very likely that you will get voice mail, but be prepared to speak to a live person anyway. Rehearse what you will say ahead of time, and get straight to the point (whether it's voice mail or a person). Reporters are busy, so even if they pick up the phone, you still have only a tiny window in which to convince them how newsworthy your story is.

16. When you send a news release, send it with the confidence that the media will want to act on it and write or cover your topic. This is basic Law of Attraction at work. If you send the release fearful or thinking, "They'll never cover my story," you will likely see exactly that happen. But if you think and tell yourself, "This is a great story! They will be jumping through hoops to cover it!" that will more likely be your exprience.

17. Be ready when a reporter, editor, or photographer calls to follow up! When they call, you jump on that opportunity, because if you don't, they'll be on to the next story faster than they can say, "Next!" Make sure the contact person is available, not skiing in Tibet (yes, I actually know somoene who sent a release the day they went on vacation, so they were unable to answer the reporter's call. Would have gotten a great feature in a Sunday magazine, had they been avalable when the editor called.

18. Don't get discouraged if your story is not picked up on your first try - but keep on trying! There are so many outlets, and they all need copy! You can provide that with a well-written release about something newsworthy.

19. Try online sites like and These are Internet sites for posting media releases and articles that generate great visibility. There's a fee involved, but their fabulous rankings on the major search engines make it well worth the money!

20. Hire a pro to help you craft the perfect media release.

For answers to your questions about writing a news release that will get picked up, e-mail Laura or visit Write | Market | Design, where we specialize in teaching our writers to think like marketers!

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