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PR Basics

Press Releases – What, Why & How

PR, Public Relations, is about communication much like marketing and advertising.  However, marketing, advertising and social media are you telling the public how great your brand is, whereas PR is trusted magazines, writers and influencers doing this for you.  This difference is why businesses invest in PR.

PR is an invaluable for businesses of any size, not just the corporates of this world, and should absolutely be accessible to businesses at any stage, whether start up or multi-million pound turnover. 

So, how can you approach it?

The humble press release is as good a foundation as any. You’ve all heard of them, but have you written one?  Perhaps the thought fills you with dread or you’ve found yourself looking at a blank screen for a little too long.

  1. Identify Where the Value Is

Your true starting point when it comes to writing a press release is to find your hook.  What is it that you want to share with the media?  If your hook isn’t compelling enough or relevant to the media contact you want to pitch to, you will struggle to see fruits from your PR labour. 

The relationship between a journalist and PR or brand is one that needs nurturing right from day one, email one, hook one.  It needs to be started on the right foot which means getting objective about your brand and your offering.  Explore what sets you apart from your competitors or what news you have.  What new product or service are you offering?  What is unique about your business journey?  What is going to make a journalist stop and take note?

  1. Get Writing

Once you know where the value is and what you want to share in your press release, it’s time to put pen to paper, or type to screen.

Look at it as a simple one page document to give a journalist the gist of your ‘story’.  It is often just a combination of pertinent text and visuals, there is no one size fits all about how a press release should look.

The purpose of a press release will vary greatly, from announcing an award win to the regional media; to pitching your expert comment to a trade publication; to launching a new collection to the consumer media through to pitching a service or product for a review opportunity.  The myriad of potential within the media means that it is important to be specific about why you’re writing your press release and what you’re going to share.

Whatever your hook, you need to consider 3 key things; content, aims and audience.

Content – What do you want to say?  What story are you telling?  What are the facts and figures?  What is the real point of interest to your ‘hook’?  What does the journalist need to know?  The content that you create within your press release is your chance to open up the conversation with a journalist.  It is your time to make your case for why you are a great fit for their magazine or media outlet.

Aims – What do you want to achieve with this press release?  Perhaps it’s regional coverage or maybe it’s an interview in a women’s lifestyle magazine.  There are so many different types of media opportunity that you need to be clear on what results you want this press release to guide you to.

Audience – Your aims will lead you to your audience.  Your target media will be intrinsically linked with your target audience and ideal client.  You will be led to your target media because it is consumed by your target audience.  Become familiar with your target media and build up a knowledge that will help you in your writing.  Get to know the language of these magazines and use this influence to inspire how you write your press release.

See your press release as the chance to sell your brand and concept to a journalist.  Remember, what you think is interesting, may not be quite so thrilling for a journalist.  You have to be sure that you are offering value to a journalist and that you are giving them content that resonates with their readers.

Press releases don’t need to be scary.  They don’t need to be a hurdle to getting visible.  Keep it simple and keep it objective.

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