If you’re looking to make an announcement to the media, you would be thinking what is the best format for a press release? How do you write a press release?What are examples of a good and/or a bad press release.
We spoke with Serene Goh, Director of Brango, a publishing solutions consultancy to find out. Serene was formerly the Head of Editorial Content at the Singapore Press Holdings.
1. What should you include in a press release?
Firstly, highlight the impact of the news to any channel’s audiences. Editors decide what to pick up based on the relevance of the information to their communities, as well as its urgency — in other words, a good release must answer the “so what?” and “why now?” that exists in the minds of the audience.
Key details such as sexy data — such as large quantities of money or big acres of land — should be there to substantiate information provided. Inclusion of public figures, leaders of organisations, etc, are also critical to whether something deserves attention.
2. When is a good time or what is a good reason to develop and disseminate a press release?
Understanding the lead time needed for a journalist to conduct research, interviews and actually write a piece is critical.
For example, if a press release comes in at the end of the day to a news organisation, it does not give content creators much time to generate a piece for the next day’s publication.
Far better to have it delivered (early) in the morning, so that editors have time to assess, discuss and do some angle-shooting for stories, and set realistic deadlines for their writers.
Sending it out late in the day does nothing for the press release, which is likely to be relegated to the back of a queue unless it affects matters of national security.
3. What are some of the pet peeves that editors and journalists have when it comes to press releases?
Editors and journalists need practitioners in the information and communications industry to appreciate their deadline pressures, especially when they now create content for multiple platforms.
In larger media organisations, it comes down to one journalist writing for digital, print, digital video and social media channels. It’s an incredibly tough gig.
They work late into the night, subsist on java, and are likely to have frayed nerves. So, within that context, any gaps in critical information, errors originating from the source, and the opener, “Did you get my press release?” tends to rub them the wrong way.
Many of them have inboxes that are flooded.
It’s far more effective to demonstrate knowledge of their beat and needs if/when you call. Maybe start with “Hi, how are you? Do you have five minutes to chat about a possible piece related to your [fill in the beat]?”
4. Is it an issue when brands have too much sensitive information that they can’t share?
My rejoinder to that is, if you don’t have much to share, then why create a press release at all?
Better to engage in other ways, and speak with you are ready to offer a fully formed story. A stronger approach might be to engage a journalist in a more casual setting, and discuss prospects.
Brands that spend time cultivating longer-term relationships with media professionals are likely to better empathise with their pain points, and understand where they can offer value.
5. Do you have any good or bad examples to share?
A great example of a strong approach is one I recently experienced, when a well-established publicity professional set up interviews ahead of an event so that I wouldn’t have to waste time waiting.
He was aware of my deliverables, and helped me out with images and additional quotes from multiple sources, all of whom were public figures.
While I was there, he identified gaps in my schedule, and offered additional sources that I hadn’t originally intended to interview, always asking ahead of these slots if I had a few minutes here or there to spare.
He made it his responsibility to go the extra mile to help make the process of gathering information efficient, and that’s all any media person can ask for.
Then there’s the standout bad example, when a public relations executive once called me and without introducing himself asked, “Hi, uh, is your newspaper made of newspaper paper?”