What do journalists want? Top tips for press releases.
Updated: Oct 19
“What do journalists want?”, we often get asked. How can PR work for my business?
Think like a reporter. Is this relevant to MY readers? A local reporter is not going to be interested in a story from abroad, or elsewhere in the country unless someone from the local area has been involved. Likewise, think like a local reader. Why would they be interested to know something about your business? What’s the interesting story you are telling them?
When you contact a newspaper or a reporter you must have a definite story to tell them. Has your business won an award, gained a huge contract, taken on a new senior member of staff or raised some money for charity? Don’t just contact a newspaper and ask for some publicity. They need an “angle”.
3. Golden Rules
Journalists are up against tight deadlines. The more information you can include, the better. Make sure you answer the questions WHO? WHAT? WHEN? WHERE? WHO? HOW? This will give reporters all the details they need to write the story so that the reader is fully informed.
Avoid jargon in your press release. If you must use abbreviations then explain what they mean. Make your language simple. Reporters will use terms like “send out” instead of “distribute”. They use “get” instead of “receive”. Keep your language simple.
5. Human interest
Journalists love human interest stories. Do you have a story about the people who founded your business? What are your staff doing? How are you helping the community? How will it affect PEOPLE.
Reporters like contact with people! Contact the switchboard of your local press and find out the best and worst times to try and make contact. Don’t be put off if a reporter doesn’t use your story. If you send in a press release, keep it to two pages maximum and include contact details and quotes. Make sure the person you send it in to isn’t on holiday the day after you send it!
A picture tells a thousand words! Local papers need to find at least 10 images for each edition, so help that search (and your chances of getting your story printed) by including an image. You don’t need to send professional shots, just a good clear shot will be fine.
With time at a premium, journalists do not have time to do lots of background research. Include in an “information for journalists” section any further sources of information, links to websites or newspaper cuttings.
This is vital. Find out when the paper’s deadlines are. Again, the switchboard operator can tell you. For a weekly publication Thursdays and Fridays are good days because the reporter has the week ahead. Don’t send a story in the day the paper goes to press, unless it’s a very, VERY good story!
Don’t panic if a paper contacts you with a negative story. Take the details without comment and take time to find out whether there is any substance to the story. If you say you will not comment, or threaten legal action, you will make the reporter think you have something to hide.
IDEAS FOR PRESS RELEASE STORIES
Launch of a new product or service
Growing and moving to new premises
Raising money for charity
Securing a major order
Winning an award
Appointment of key staff
Holding an event
Do any of your staff and interesting or unusual hobbies?
Creating new jobs for the local community
Have you conducted a survey recently and can share the results?
Press releases help raise your business profile and engage you with your local community and customers.
So…what are you waiting for?
Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at FreeDigitalPhotos.net