PR from the journalist’s perspective

Quite often, as a journalist, I get asked about PR. Sometimes people like to know just the basics of getting PR, who to send a press release to, how to structure a press release and so on.

Obviously, having worked as a journalist and having been sent tonnes of press releases from PR companies and individuals over the years, I’m pretty familiar with the structure of a press release.

Today I was asked by a stranger for some feedback on a press release. Instead of looking over it in a Good Samaritan kind of way and providing feedback, I decided to write up some pointers. I wasn’t being mean with my time, it took time to come up with the tips I sent to the individual in question. I hope they are of some help, and if they’re not, that’s exactly why I would recommend businesses work with a professional PR outfit to get their message out.

[Irish spinner and spinning wheel. County Galway, Ireland] (LOC)

You can spin your own press release at home

PR Tips

  • does your press release include something new i.e does it contain newsworthy information?
  • do you have a catchy headline?
  • are the most important details in the first paragraph?
  • do you have who, what, when, where, why, how covered off?
  • so you have some interesting, useful quotes in the press release?
  • have you mentioned the USP of the product/service?
  • have you kept it to one page of a word document?
  • have you included a mobile phone number so radio stations can contact you easily?
  • have you considered doing up a different release for local media – have a look at how a local paper will cover something differently to specialist areas such as music or technology
  • have a look at irishpressreleases.ie to have a look at other press releases, try and seek out ones written by professionals to get a feel for how your release rates in comparison.
  • when sending a release don’t carbon copy (CC) journalists on the one email with their email addresses visible, it’s best to Bcc or send individual mails
  • ensure you’re sending the press release to the right person – you can pick up the phone and check with the relevant publication beforehand
  • journalists really don’t like getting a raft of phone calls ‘did you receive my press release’ or ‘will you be running with this story?’
    • it is quite likely they will have received your press release and they may not honestly know till closer to publication if their editor will run with it.

The above tips are absolute basics and in no way replace the expertise of professional PR people. As with everything, you can DIY it but in many cases that doesn’t mean having the same finish as having a professional in to do the job.

If you’re looking for professional PR help have a look at the PRII website or the PRCA listing of consultants or drop me an email and I can recommend some PR consultants.

What are your tips for getting PR coverage?

1 reply
  1. Stephanie Collins
    Stephanie Collins says:

    Great post Elaine, a few points people should keep in mind:

    I think a major mistake people make when writing their own press releases is writing it like it is an advertisment. A press release should only be issued with NEWSWORTHY information, such as the launch of a new product or service or the results of a unique piece of research. Remember that you are not trying to sell your product or service to the journalist, but simply inform them of it, so be sure that your information is concise, to the point and accurate! Try and avoid cliches and catch phrases (once off offer not to be missed) and concentrate on communicating your brand and service.

    Like Elaine said, keep it to one page if you can and remember to structure it with the 5 W’s (Who, What, When, Where and Why) and how. Always print/type on a letterhead with your company logo and details.

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