How To Write a Press Release

By Thomas Murrell MBA CSP, International Business Speaker

Have you ever sent out a media release and got no response? Zero, zip, nil, zilch?

The majority of media releases never get used by the media. Why is this?

Having worked in the media and in media relations for more than 20 years here are my insights on the nine reasons the media won't use your news release.

1. Information Overload.

Journalists are bombarded with information. When I was at the Australian Broadcasting Corporation our fax would spew out at least a hundred media releases a day. With email, the amount of information journalists receive on a daily basis is huge.

2. The Operating Environment.

Walk into any newsroom around the world and its dominated and run by alpha males. In senior editorial ranks the glass ceiling is set in the stratosphere for women.

It's a competitive dog eat dog environment, shaped by egos and deadlines. Journalists have to worry about publishers, editors, sub-editors, executive producers, peers, stakeholders, advertisers, readers, viewers and listeners.

Understand this environment and you understand the pressures they are under. Learn to work within this operating environment. For example, always ask them what their deadline is when initial contact is made.

Most media relations fails because of a lack of understanding of the environment the media work in.

3. Deadlines

Deadlines are absolute and immovable. If you promise something before a deadline and don't deliver, you not only let the reporter down, they are under added pressure to fill a hole.

If you can't make a deadline, let the media know as soon as possible.

Miss a deadline and you miss an opportunity. Always make it a priority to return calls from the media.

Respond to requests for extra information, interviews or photo shoots promptly.

4. Media Products Differ

Different publications and programs are aimed at different audiences. From daily newspapers to specialist trade magazines and newsletters all have a clear brief.

Make sure your media releases matches their brief. If there is not a match, they won't use it.

5. Media People Differ

People differ. Some are ego-driven, some are story-tellers, some are mirror holders, some are truth seekers, and some are social activists.

Find out the key to what motivates them and you unlock the secrets of good media relations.

6. Media Organisations Differ

This is known as agency, where the economics, politics and culture of a media organisation impacts on what stories they run and how they treat a story. For example, public broadcasters like the Australian Broadcasting Corporation have clear editorial guidelines preventing any promotion of commercialism.

7. No Relationship

Relationships are built on trust. The stronger the relationship, the more likely you will understand what the media wants.

The best approach is to communicate, follow-up and then leave it at that. Don't be a pest or time-waster.

8. Lack Of Clarity And Consistency

If you're not clear on what your key message is, how will the media know?

It is better to be clear and concise than original.

9. Accuracy and Style

Inaccurate information destroys trust and the relationship. The style must be in a media friendly format.

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