I’ve been teaching ‘writing for the media’ for many years, giving guidelines and tips to journalists and PR writers. And yet, I fell prey to one of the most common traps……..
I recently wanted to publicise an important activity within my own organisation and, as I have a good relationship with the local media, I approached a particular and highly competent business editor with my media release. He asked me to send in my CV as well to see if he could turn it into an interesting article. This I did. He used the information to write a very good piece and duly sent me a draft for checking before submitting. I was happy, returned it and he submitted it.
However, when it appeared, we noticed that a ‘sub’ had omitted the most important and recent information and retained items less important and newsworthy. Hence, the result was not the one I had hoped for. Getting a media release published was one thing, getting the desired outcome was another. So, in evaluating that PR exercise, I’m reviewing important aspects of writing a media release and getting it published – to your satisfaction.
The MOST important thing is, DO NOT submit any information you do not want used! Sending in my CV was my mistake. By doing so, I gave the editor the power to select additional information that he thought would make a useful or interesting article. And then in the subbing process the original important information was omitted. Hence, “there’s many a slip twixt the cup and the lip” so ensure you only send what needs to be made known for your purposes.
Other tips to remember:
Tip 1: Create stories. The link to the media is newsworthiness – send only items that you think the audience would find newsy and interesting. Reporters and audiences like quotes. They add authenticity and immediacy to the story or piece. So give them a few – even quote yourself!
Tip 2: Timing your media release. And link to other news and events. Keep abreast of what’s going on in the news so that you can tap into what’s happening and create synergies with other events, special days and organisations.
Tip 3: Be organised and correct. Use a method like the 5Ws and 1 H for your media release to ensure the important information is included. Only add extra info if space permits. Write in the third person, not the first (we not I) – to meet the journalistic criterion of ‘objectivity’. And always proofread to be free of typos.
Tip 4: Essential inclusions – Source of info with contact details; date; a catchy headline; and a picture helps.
Tip 5: Tweak your press release according to the different media you use to suit the various audiences and to create ‘synergies’ (Tip 2). Come up with a number of creative angles for each story and submit the timeliest and most appropriate ones.
Keep writing, keep contact with the media and keep submitting your stories!