In my previous post, drawing on my experience as a former journalist, I offered my views on drafting attention-grabbing media releases that may encourage (professional) journalists to actually consider publishing them.
I highlighted the non-negotiable requirement, namely that the content should be newsworthy. It should also be balanced and written well.
A news release is not a company’s marketing brochure. Remember, reporters aren’t in it to help grow your business or drive fans to your Facebook page. They are the least concerned about how your product offers the clichéd “best value for money,” or how your staff are “dedicated to client service” – or how your long-term vision to be the “leading whatever company” in the region will make your enterprise the “business of choice”. What they are looking for is news, plain and simple.
Here are further useful things to bear in mind when drafting your news release (or reviewing the one your agency presents for sign-off):
Attribute sensible and punchy quotes to a spokesperson. Do not quote spokespeople who will not be available or willing to conduct follow-up interviews (either because they will be on holiday, or because they do not view the media as an important ally).
Avoid jargon and technical industry-specific terminologies. Explain these in lay terms.
If you send out a media release riddled with grammatical errors, you run the risk of alienating journalists, resulting in your release simply being spiked (an old newspaper term which implies being thrown into the rubbish bin). Of course, there’s also the curse of ridicule.
Ensure your media list targets the journalists whose beat it is to cover the theme of your content. No sense sending a media release on the environment to a fashion reporter. Not only are you guaranteed it will not be published, but you also run the risk of jeopardising future dealings with that particular reporter.
Arabic or English
Especially in countries like the UAE where English is not the sole language of communication, ensure that your release goes out in the language used by the reporter (or media outlet) to whom the media release is addressed.
List at least two contact people and their contact details at the end of your release – if one is unavailable to deal with a media query, hopefully the other would be reachable. Journalists work on deadlines. If they can’t reach you to clarify a point, they will either simply delete the story or go ahead and publish a story that may contain factual inaccuracies about your company.
These tips and those shared in my previous blog post are by no means the elixir for guaranteed publication of your news releases, but they will go a long way to ensure greater chances for seeing them in print.