Many companies’ efforts to get their news into print end up on the editor’s spike – or its modern equivalent, the recycle bin – for failing the ‘so what?’ test. A major cause of failure is badly-written, poorly-structured, low-news-value media releases that are just plain boring.
So, to avoid further waste of time and money on going-nowhere news releases, let’s look at how you can improve your company’s chances of media coverage and, more importantly, make your news interesting so that your message influences the target audience.
First, remember the fundamentals. News is information that is fresh, out of the ordinary and will, to a greater or lesser degree, affect the reader. Some ‘news’, however, simply isn’t. For example, an event of great importance inside your company may have absolutely no relevance to your customers, suppliers or the community at large – which means its external news value is, at best, minimal. So start by asking yourself: “Why does this news matter to anyone else?”
Here are some more tips:
- When you have a real news story, make it reader-friendly. Tell it in as few words as possible, making each sentence or paragraph compact, but information-rich.
- Use direct speech for variety. Quotes also give readers a feeling the managing director (or whoever) is speaking straight to them. Be sure to use the quote for a key message, as it is the part of a release likeliest to be used unaltered by the editor – don’t waste quote opportunities on clichéd statements like: “We’re thrilled …”.
- Explain everything – never assume readers share your understanding of the subject.
- Always look for the human angle – it builds readers’ empathy.
- Include accurate numbers: “a £1 million project” means so much more than “a substantial investment”.
- Don’t waste time on puffery – editors are never impressed by it, so your story may not reach their readers.
- Illustrate the story with a good, relevant photo. After all, a picture really is worth a thousand words.