Tips of the trade

The fundamental tool of the PR business is the press release. Writing a good press release greatly increases your chances of getting positive editorial placement in the media covering your specific industry.

Editors receive thousands of press releases. Probably 80 to 90 percent of them are immediately deleted or tossed into the trash bin. There are several reasons, but it’s usually because the editors perceive that the press release does not have sufficient news value relevant to their readers. This judgment is typically made in a second or two at most.

So what constitutes a good press release?
Here are ten suggestions:
(Click for details)
Make sure it is really newsworthy.


The press release should contain news that is timely and interesting. If it isn’t news, don’t bother. Save your money, and don’t waste the editor’s time.

Target your markets.


Target your markets. It is a waste of time to send a press release to the wrong media. Make sure you are only sending your press release to the appropriate media. Remember that Marine NewsWire can help you tailor your distribution to specific target regions and market sectors.

Put a date on it.


This helps the editor gauge the news value of your story.

Include a press contact.


Give the name, phone number and email address of the press contact for your company. This will help the editor follow up for more information.

Use the inverted pyramid writing style.


To do this, start with the most important information, stating the basic news proposition in the opening paragraph. Include the five “Ws” that every reporter looks for in a story: who, what, when, where and why. Information should be presented in descending order of importance. Save supporting material, quotes and details for later paragraphs.

Keep it short.


A good press release should be no more than two pages.

Stick to the facts.


Avoid cute “salesy” leads. Save them for your ads or sales brochures. Nothing turns an editor off faster than a news release that reads like an advertisement, full of bluster and creative fluff, but without substance.

Explain technical concepts.


Many editors are generalists, and they do not have a technical background. If you are presenting a technical subject, explain it in layman’s terms. Avoid technical jargon. Spell out acronyms and abbreviations the first time you use them. It may be helpful to add a technology backgrounder to help the editor understand the subject.

Include information about your company.


Add a closing paragraph that tells briefly about your company. How long has it been in business? Where is it headquartered? Is it privately held or publicly traded? Is it a subsidiary of a larger organization? What are its major product lines? What are its major markets? How large is it? This will help the editor put your news into perspective.

Use follow-up calls sparingly.


If your announcement is sufficiently important, you might want to call or email a few key journalists to alert them to the news. Editors hate it when PR people call and ask, “Did you get my press release?”