When it comes to press releases I’ve seen both sides. I’ve received hundreds, possibly thousands in my career as a B2B property journalist and I’ve also helped property PR’s write them.
The purpose of a press release is clear, to tell journalists your story so, hopefully, they will think it is interesting enough to tell their readers.
What journalists are looking for is the facts and figures and a good, usable quote (more on the latter in a moment).
Your press release, once it has pinged into a journalist’s inbox is theirs to do with what they will. It becomes their story, not yours.
A journalist will most likely want to add their own take, expand on it with some research, additional information, comment or opinion.
It may involve interviews with you, your peers, your rivals, a person on the street or anyone else they feel has value to add to the story.
Value-add for readers
They aim to write something that best serves their readers. What value can they add for their readership, not what they can do for you, your business and brand.
Once, when out doing interviews for a regional property feature, I was told that I should be doing my bit to boost a particular area.
But that isn’t a journalist’s job, that is marketing.
It may be tempting to add branding or marketing messages to a press release but this isn’t going to serve you, rather it is a wasted opportunity (and time).
Avoid marketing ‘fluff’
We used to refer to is as ‘fluff’ and it was rarely included.
That sort of information – and language – should be reserved for brochures, adverts and other marketing material.
Instead, the press release is an opportunity to tell your story in a way that adds value and insight.
This is where the press release quote can come into its own.
It’s a prime opportunity to add some context. The facts and figures tell part of the story the quote, in simplistic terms, helps the journalist understand why it is important and relevant.
Too many press release quotes are wasted with dull statements that don’t add anything to the story: ‘we are delighted to see…’, that sort of thing.
Truth is, no one expects you to be anything other than delighted (or cares if you are), so don’t state the obvious.
Another example and a ‘favourite’ of mine is: ‘We are open for business’. When haven’t you been?
Instead, you could say something about what this particular story means – give it context.
That could be about what it means to you as a business or what it says about your business strategy or demonstrates about what is happening in the wider market. There are lots of options.
Make your story stand out
And it can help your story stand out. It is unlikely your story on its own is unique, so think about how you can differentiate it.
Another example from my journalism days was being asked to write about a development, let’s say an office development.
My question would be: What makes it different from all the other office developments that I should write about it?
There are numerous ways you can make your press release stand out but that’s for another post.
Ultimately when you are writing a press release you need to think about the audience and that is both what the journalist needs and what their readers might be interested in.