Preparing a media release can be a daunting task, so ArtsHub asked for advice from some of the industry’s best PR bosses.
Image via Shutterstock.
Preparing a media release can be a daunting task. You need to condense months of hard work and passion into precise details, presenting your event and considerable, important information in the most efficient way possible.
Writing and releasing a media release that gets noticed is an art form in itself. Here at ArtsHub we receive hundreds of such releases every week, as do other media outlets, making it all the more important that it’s your media release that gets noticed.
To help you craft the most effective media release we asked for advice from some of the industry’s best PR bosses.
Build it and they will read it
‘The media release needs to follow the pyramid method,’ advises Morgan Spencer, founder of Martini Mondays. ‘The who, what, why, where and when. With the most important to the least important, structured well, with the relevant points in the first few sentences.’
Such information includes the date, time and location of your event. Surprisingly we get sent a lot of media releases that don’t include this vital information or have hidden key information among the buzz words.
Use your words wisely
You went to university. They taught you to write a lengthy media release. ‘Give them all the information,’ they said.
Yes, but also, no. Send a few simple sentences and get straight to the point. There is only so much time in the day.
‘Journalists – especially those with daily (or even hourly) deadlines – work in a hectic environment and their attention span is short. You have about five seconds to catch their interest before they move on to the next lead. It helps to think of journalists as the toddlers of the professional world,’ says Nicole Leedham , word barista at Blackcoffee Communication.
‘It’s not their fault, it’s just they are constantly bombarded with information from all sorts of sources and need to quickly sort the wheat from the chaff.’
What this means is that not only does your media release need to have impeccable spelling and grammar – it needs a ‘hook’ in the first paragraph. What is the most memorable, original or newsworthy aspect of your event or production? That’s the point you want to emphasise in the opening paragraph.
Think like a journalist: to make your story newsworthy it needs to really stand out from the crowd.
Ease up on the buzz words
Avoid the following:
‘Can you help us get the word out?’ (Do you want the response to be no?)
‘HYPE’ ‘REVOLUTIONARY’ ‘WORLD CLASS’ and anything that is ‘GROUND BREAKING’.
‘Long point short, not only will people think you are full of yourself, what you’re really saying is that you don’t actually know how to describe your event in a meaningful way. The reader will simply skim past your email as they’ve read those same words over and over and over again in bad pitches,’ advises Tina Zafiropoulos director and founder of Sydney Public Relations.
Forgotten to format?
The good old copy and paste may seem like the answer to your dreams but it’s a shortcut to mistakes. Copying from a Word document across to email can result in a clash of formatting. It may look professional on your end of the email but it can turn up looking as if it was written by someone who enjoys playing with clag.
Instead, use the ‘paste as plain text’ function. This is a simple and effective way to copy and paste. Grab the text you want to copy and right click on your mouse. Then choose paste as plain text. Once the text is ready to go, edit and format to your heart’s desire.
Delivering the goods
Be careful how you send, as well as what you send. One major email list faux pas is to add a thousand email addresses into the CC section, with the sender emailing it to themselves. This puts you at risk of people reporting your email as spam, and worse, can alienate the people you wanted to read your media release – you’ve essentially just provided their personal contact details with everyone on your list. Keep emails private – except your own.
A better option is to use an email service such as MailChimp, Campaign Monitor or SendInBlue. These systems allow you to create email lists and give you great data on open rates, click-throughs and bounce rates, allowing you to target your next media release to those who are actually interested in reading it.
Put the phone down
It’s very tempting to get on the phone five minutes after you’ve hit ‘send’. Resist the temptation to get on the phone and start calling everyone on the list to see if they want more information or to set up an interview. If the journalist is interested – they’ll ask you to:
A) Answer a few questions.
B) Connect them with a spokesperson via interview or phone.
C) Ask for more details and high res images.
No matter what you do (or what you pay someone else to do on your behalf) there’s no guarantee that sending a media release will result in media attention. If you want guaranteed exposure and coverage, then you’re better off considering buying advertising space at the publication in question.