How to Make Press Releases Newsworthy

Bo Mattsson With the evolution of traditional public relations moving to a broader digital platform, PR professionals are constantly reviewing and analyzing the stories that make their brands heard. Gone are the days of a press release achieving coverage as a favor here and there. Now, PR consultants and businesses alike need to consider whether their story is both newsworthy and suitable for the media outlet.

The press release is a vital tool that can be used to captivate journalists or bloggers and entice them to publish your story. With journalists receiving a multitude of press releases every day, the pressure is on the writer to ensure that the release is newsworthy enough for publishing in order to achieve the desired coverage.

There are a number of steps a brand or business can take to ensure their content is newsworthy:

Research and identify the news hook

With journalists continuously working under tight deadlines and competing against real-time news dissemination across social media, it is crucial a press release captures their attention immediately. The key is to include strategically researched information that is in fact genuine news, whether that’s a new product or service, a new hire, promotion or sales and profit figures.

The story then needs to be set out in the five ‘W’s’ (who, what, where, when and why) format which will help a journalist or influencer easily establish what the news hook is and whether it is of interest to their publication and readership base. Avoid using hyperbole and complicated jargon; instead employ concise language that gets straight to the point, encouraging easy reading for the end user.

It is also important to include a clear quote from a spokesperson or executive that reiterates the key message. This shouldn’t be a long-winded promotional pitch, but should summarize the main points of the information previously discussed in the release. The quote is a valuable resource that remains unaltered, so it is crucial it fits in with the style of the publication being targeted.

Seek audience opinion to inform statistics

Often press releases are considered substantially more newsworthy when the story is reinforced by figures and statistics. In order to support a release with concrete facts, a brand may create research panels to tap into particular demographics and gather tailored market intelligence. As long as brands carefully select the sample source and type of respondents they wish to question, and approach them with well-designed surveys that will provide unique and in-depth insights when answered, they will have the intelligence needed to inform future campaigns.   Ensuring sample is ‘representative’ of the demographic or target group one is targeting is crucial to ensure robustness of the data and credibility when the article and research is scrutinized.  Avoiding sensationalizing news through poorly designed research should be avoided at all costs.

A fashion company for example may want to piggyback off a national event such as London Fashion Week. Therefore the brand may question its target audience on which products they were inspired to buy following the shows. If a high percentage of the survey sample confirms they were inspired to purchase shoes for instance, this statistic could then form the foundations of a release, providing an additional dimension for a fashion reporter’s story about London Fashion Week.

Tailor releases to the media outlet

Press releases will only be considered newsworthy by the relevant media. Although it is not time-efficient to write separate releases for different outlets in one sector, focusing on the key areas of interest will increase the likelihood of a release being featured.

Furthermore, not only should the correct outlet be approached but, but it should be approached in engaging and memorable ways. Press releases are vehicles for building media relationships, but they don’t always have to be constructed in the traditional format. In order to attract the attention of journalists in an innovative and creative manner, a company may tweet them with a link to an infographic on their website or a podcast hosted on Audioboo.

Additionally, when approaching lifestyle bloggers it might be beneficial to create a consumer-facing release that can be used almost verbatim as a finished article. This will save the blogger the time of rewriting content and increase the chances of it being posted quickly on their site.

The above are three examples of how to ensure press releases are newsworthy and of interest to journalists. Whether a brand chooses to opt for the traditional format or a more modern variant, as long as the content has been thought through and applied effectively, the press release is one of the best ways to communicate a brand’s story.

Bo Mattsson is the chief executive of Cint, a global provider of market research software for creating online research panels and obtaining market insight from survey respondents via its OpinionHUB global exchange platform. Bo founded Cint in 1998 when he decided to apply his experience of trading online to the market research industry. He then took over as CEO in 2003 to revamp the core technology behind the market research tools into an exchange-based offering for transparent respondent access. For further information, please visit www.cint.com.

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  • Kristina Smith

    It was an interesting post and when it comes to press release writing service, I would say that rules and precision are necessary for good writing. Practice and internalise good standards until they are automatic and then (and perhaps only then) you can begin to play with the infinite possibility of words.