Summary: A press release can deliver free publicity and can be of help to inform the public. If it is published at an opportune moment, is well written and distributed according to customs, the press release does not harass journalists. On the contrary, it helps them do their job.
Publish press releases which are interesting, newsworthy and well-written. For big companies a press release publication is a commonplace. They have either their own specialists to do it or else they co-operate with PR agencies. Nevertheless, a press release can also help small or commencing companies or organisations. The role of the newspapers and periodicals is to write about something – whether anything is happening or not. For smaller companies arises a chance that if they submit interesting information about their activities, with a bit of luck, there will be an article written about them which amounts to unpaid advertisement.
A press release is one of the ways how a company can influence its relations with the public. This is very often called PR or public relations. The bottom line is how the company sees its environment and how it communicates with it. The public's favour can have a big influence on the company's success – has more loyal customers, finds employees more easily etc.
Apart from taking advantage of a press release as a form of unpaid advertisement and building relations with the public there is another way of its use – as a reaction to unusual or critical situations. It gives the company an opportunity to react quickly to e.g. false accusations, which somebody might have done in the media, and thus the company can redeem itself in the public eye.
When writing a press release try to answer: Who, What, When, Where and Why. The stated information should be, as far as it is possible, verifiable from independent sources, which you might also quote. Most journalists make judgement about usefulness of your press release on the basis of the title and the first paragraph. Therefore, pay close attention to these parts.
The press release should include:
Photographs of a good quality or additional graphics along with the caption are suitable if the news requires it. Optimal length for a press release is approximately 1 page A4, maximum 2 pages A4. You can see these examples of press releases.
When distributing news by e-mail it is appropriate to send it as an attachment, the best in a DOC format or PDF. Put the title of the news in the subject. Into the body of the mail insert, apart from the title, the first paragraph as well or the whole text of the press release. If the attached photographs exceed the tolerable size for e-mails, select rather only one, and the rest of them place on the Internet and link to them. At least this is the custom in the Czech Republic.
These mistakes (arranged in accordance with frequency of their appearance) have been stated in one of the researches among the Czech journalists:
Source: Donath-Burson-Marsteller, Průzkum mezi českými novináři (Research among the Czech journalists), June 2003
With a bit of luck an article might appear in the near future, which is very similar to your press release. Needless to say, it is necessary to take into account that your news might not be of interest and your story never gets published. However, it can draw the journalists' attention to your activities and it might be the foundation of another article printed out later.
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