What do you do, if you’re doing all the right things to get coverage – targeting the right newspapers and media outlets, coming up with interesting stories, not bombarding editors with press releases – and the journalists are still not interested?
That was the dilemma facing a marketing and PR consultant who recently came to me for a 1-2-1 media relations course.
When we looked through the pitches and press releases she was sending out, I realised what the problem was.
In each one, it wasn’t clear what her “top line” was – even if she knew what the story was she was trying to promote.
The top line is the most interesting angle of the story – it is what should form the introduction of your release, and what should become the introduction to any report.
What she hadn’t done was put herself in the shoes of the journalist wading through 100s of pitches and press releases and potential stories, with only seconds to consider and assess each one.
It wasn’t instantly clear what the story was from her headline or introduction.
Journalists don’t have time to read through five paragraphs to get to the nub of the story – they need to know immediately what that top line is. Especially considering many of journalists will be reading your email on a smartphone nowadays, when they’ll only get to see a few words.
So when you are composing your press release or pitch, make sure that angle is clear from the headline and from your introduction.
Remember, your headline has to persuade your journalist to open the email and read the press release, the introduction has to persuade them to read on.
If it helps, look at the paper or watch the programme that the journalist works for, and imagine that story in or on it.
How would it be written, how would it be introduced?
That’s how you should start your press release or pitch – with one gripping fact.
Compare these two press release titles (both real, but neither written by me):
“East End of London is the Adultery Capital of England” and
“Press Conference Invitation Letter”.
Now which of these would you immediately delete if you were the journalist?
Ann Wright runs regular courses on writing effective press releases for the PRCA, as well as our own bespoke courses for clients. For more information, just get in contact via the website, or give us a call on 020 8332 6200.