I went to this great event last week with the Arts Agenda hosted by Laura Murray Public Relations. They held a panel of three prominent journalists in Vancouver who gave their tips on how to pitch to the media. That got me thinking to share my tips (+ a few things I learned at the workshop) on how to write a press release to get your art + business noticed.
So, got an event you’re trying to promote? A brilliant new accomplishment? A stunning addition to your shop? Why not try and hustle some free advertising with a press release!
There’s just one problem. Reporters are bombarded with thousands of press releases every day. Boring, drab, colorless fact sheets. So how do you get to the top of the pile? Hint: it’s not with scented, floral-bordered, pink paper.
Five Tips for How to Write a Press Release
1. Catchy headline.
“My store is having a huge sale” is not a catchy headline. Nor is “I’m having a huge event.” It may sound great to your customers, readers, and followers who are already invested in your company, but to a reporter it’s “so what?” Which is exactly what you need to ask yourself when coming up with a catchy headline. “So what?” Focus on what makes your sale or event special.
2. Know your publication.
Do some research to find out who the editor is at the publication you are reaching. Craft individualized pitches to each reporter with a story that fits their audience. Include a note in your email that tells them why their publication is the best platform for your story. Use their name if you know it, and do your best to find it out if you don’t.
3. Quality images
If you’ve got a handle on photography, include images with your press release. Images immediately bring interest to an article by drawing the reader in. When you incorporate photography in your press release, it not only adds interest to your piece, but saves precious time for those busy reporters.
4. Be Punctual.
Reporters are crazy busy people. If you want to get your press release covered, then you’ve got to give the reporter enough time (but not too much time!) to do your story justice. The general consensus is to send your first pitch about six weeks in advance. This will let the reporter have your story on their mind and in their calendar for the appropriate time. If you don’t hear back, it’s okay to email them again with a reminder and maybe a little more information about the pitch. Don’t worry about pestering a reporter with your email, they welcome the reminder. Plus, they’ll let you know when enough is enough.
5. Use creativity.
Lastly, if you’ve got the vision, budget, and time, consider making your press release creative! Like this one. They not only made their press release interactive, but contacted each media outlet to make sure their creativity was welcomed. Nothing is worse than putting huge amounts of time and effort into something that’s just going to be trashed.
The age of traditional press releases has come to an end. However, some reporter still like to receive a properly formatted press release with all the details of your pitch. Did you know that press releases have a technical side to them as well? There’s a specific format we use. It’s also important to use proper grammar, syntax, and spelling. Reporters are writers. They like to read well-written prose. If writing isn’t your strength, consider hiring one! We are experienced in weaving words and spotting errors, and, here’s a secret, we love writing! (Most of us anyway.)
Remember: Make your press release newsworthy! Not sure what makes something newsworthy? Don’t worry! I’ll cover that in another post!