Top Five Tips for writing news releases that get picked up

dHz Media Blog

The first step in obtaining good consistent media coverage

Writing a news release that is both informative and interesting can at times be a difficult. As a writer you don’t always feel that what you’re writing about is interesting. Despite what you may think or believe there is always something new and exciting about the story or you wouldn’t be asked to write it and you need to find out what it is if you want an editor to notice.

Photo caption:A news release that gets picked up will help significantly when getting TV News. Global Calgary TV picked up at dHz Media release and did a story on an event with famed Canadian Author and Artist Douglas Coupland.
Photo credit: Calgary Photos

Working at dHz Media has its perks. One such perk is the fact that we work with some truly fantastic writers. Baila Lazarus, the former features editor at Business in Vancouver newspaper in Vancouver is one of those writers. Lazarus does freelance writing for dHz Media, as well as a number of publications around the world. She has her own media coaching business and her extensive experience and knowledge of media made her the perfect person to help me boost my writing skills.

We started by going over some previous news releases written by others that she has come across over the years. We looked at what would take them from being just all right to something an editor would notice. In most cases the necessary information was there; it just needed to be re-written or re-positioned to make it more appealing.

By reviewing and re-writing those releases I learned these five valuable lessons:

  1. The headline should be short (six to eight words), clear and grab the attention of the reader
  2. Learn what your audience is most interested in and put that information first
  3. The background information is secondary and should be placed after the new and exciting information you want to convey
  4. Don’t use to many adjectives or fluffy words
  5. When writing a news release it is best to have a professional tone

Many people make the mistake of thinking they need to replace the word ‘says’ after a quote with something else, such as ‘stated emphatically but what I have learned is that in almost all non-fiction writing ‘says’ is just fine, so don’t try to use another word just for the sake of it.Balila Lazarus

Quotes are important in news releases but they are supplementary and should not fill the entire release. Quotes should be relatively short and easy to follow. An editor is not going to use a quote that runs on for three paragraphs. One or two good sentences are all that is necessary.

The headline is probably the most important element of all. Without a good headline an editor is not likely to even read a sentence of your release. It must contain what you feel is important and exciting to your audience if you want editor to decide it is worth their time to read. From there your next few paragraphs are crucial in convincing him or her that your release is something they should pursue further.

Photo caption: One news release is all it took to get NOVUS TV Personality, Natalie Langston, out to an event on the Cape on Bowen where she interviewed the developer of The Cape on Bowen, Don Ho.
Photo credit: The Cape on Bowen

Know your audience and what’s important to them and try to work it into the headline. From there you can expand in the first two paragraphs before jumping into background information.

Following this format will produce a strong news release which is the first step in obtaining good consistent media coverage for clients.

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