Long live the press release! Well kind of…

November 4, 2015

The art of drafting a press release has long been a pre-requisite in any PR professional’s skill set. Being able to capture all the information a journalist might need in 250 words with a snappy headline and a persuasive call to action is a must.

But in these days of social media, blogging and real-time, 24/7 news is the press release now dead?

Certainly there is no longer a team working on getting a press release issued. There was a time (and it’s not so long ago…) when sending to a press list of 600 meant printing off the release on 1200 sheets of paper, sticking on 600 captioned photographs, stuffing that all in an envelope to zap through the franking machine (frighteningly, the only part of the process that was automated).

Now that process is completed at the touch of a button and in seconds it will be in a reporter’s inbox – along with dozens of others all vying for his or her attention. There is no doubt the process is easier but is it worth it and does that standard approach still work?

In certain cases yes it does. If the story is strong enough, you are clever with your text in the subject box and the journalist knows and trusts you there is a chance.

Whilst the delivery mechanism may have changed, the rules about the content most certainly haven’t. Whether you are trying to reach a journalist, blogger or forum administrator, the principles are the same. It’s still WHO, WHAT, WHEN, WHERE and HOW.

Plus the other must haves in my opinion;

  • capture the essence of the story in the first paragraph, which should be no more than 25 words;
  • have a holding paragraph at around paragraph 3 or 4, which establishes the key facts you haven’t already covered;
  • include an image;
  • finish with your contact details for further information, the relevant website address for the story you have just talked about and an up to date boiler plate.

Job done. The press release as some of us once knew it is truly dead and buried but the same principles certainly apply for packaging content for the media whether they are on or offline.

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Caroline Rawlinson is passionate about the power of PR and its ability to impact the business bottom line. In recognition of her services to the sector, she is now a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR). Her business, The Vivid PR Consultancy, is an award-winning agency offering marketing communications, design and digital services.