Press releases can be an invaluable source of news and products for journalists, but before you think about adding another email to their inbox you need to get your content and presentation right. We asked PR consultant Kerry Law, author of new ebook A DIY Guide to PR for crafters, makers and independent retailers, to share her tips for writing a press release that will get you noticed for all the right reasons…
Featured image: Handmade Card by Lucy’s Cards
How to write a brilliant press release
Do you want more media exposure for your creative business and your products? Journalists on newspaper supplements and glossy magazines are always on the look-out for original and gorgeous products for their gift guide features – and as you’re a Folksy seller, you may have just the sort of thing they’re looking for.
One of the best ways to introduce journalists to your products is via a press release. Here’s my step-by-step guide to what every good press release should have.
What you need to include in a press release:
This may sound obvious but a surprising number of people miss this crucial point. Journalists want to know two things: what’s new, and why is it relevant to their readers? Are you launching a brand new product? Will you be appearing at a major retail event for the first time? Have you changed something in your business (gained organic accreditation; won an award; started sourcing all materials from the UK)? If you answered ‘yes’ to any of those questions, you’ve got the key message of your release sorted.
A topical angle
But what if you couldn’t answer a hearty ‘yes’ to the above and just need to give your products a bit of a publicity boost? Then this is where you need to get a little more creative with your ‘news’ angle. As I’m sure you’ll have noticed, product pages in magazines tend to run on (sometimes predictable) seasonal topics – gifts for Christmas, Mothering Sunday, Father’s Day; interiors or fashion for each new season; Halloween, Easter, summer holiday-inspired products; gifts fit for (another) royal baby. Take a lateral look at your products and go with what makes them relevant and topical right now.
You, and the media, work in a strong visual medium so good-quality images of your product are absolutely crucial. No media outlet will feature your product without a great image. Your release should include clear, white background ‘cut out’ images of your product high up in the release (I’d recommend no further than two paragraphs down the page so they can’t be missed). Caption them clearly with the product name, price and website of where to buy. Don’t let out-of-focus, ill-lit or oddly-angled photos let you down. (I’ve seen so many great products miss out on media opportunities purely because their images weren’t up to scratch. That’s why I dedicated a section to creating the best media-friendly images in my DIY Guide to PR.)
The right introduction
This is one of the most important parts of any release as it’s your first, and perhaps only, opportunity to capture a journalist’s attention. Your intro should include ‘The 4 Ws’: the ‘Who’, ‘What’, ‘When’ and ‘Where’ of the news angle you’ve decided on.
Use the following paragraphs to expand on the ‘Why’ and ‘How’ of your story, e.g. you’ve launched now because it makes a great Christmas gift for grandparents. More detail about how you create it highlights the product’s USPs or unique selling points – is it hand-crafted, organic, limited edition, award-winning, made of 100% local materials?
A ‘call to action’
Don’t forget that the main purpose of getting media coverage is to generate sales! Make it clear where and when people can buy your product, including all the pricing detail and, in this case, a last-order date for Christmas delivery. Aside from encouraging sales, do you have another ‘call to action’? Are you running a competition to win some products; or persuading people to visit an event you’re selling at? Again, make the message clear.
The ‘bread and butter’ bits
A professional-looking release should always include a headline (simple and to-the-point, don’t waste time on clever puns, that’s what sub-editors are for!); your contact details; any ‘about us’-style detail on your business in the footer under the ‘Notes for the Editor’ section. Insert a low-resolution image of your logo on the top, add the current date against ‘For immediate release’, and you’re good to go!
What your press release shouldn’t include:
Now we’ve been through the things you include in your press release, here are three things you definitely shouldn’t!
A press release full of ‘salesy’ talk of how great your products are will ensure a swift hit of the ‘Delete’ button. A press release is NOT an advert!
Don’t leave the press release begging for further questions in order to clarify the story. Think being enigmatic will entice a journalist to get in touch for more info? You’re more likely to receive a stony silence…
Proof-read. Then proof-read again. Then proof-read a final time! Sending a press release littered with errors looks unprofessional and sloppy.
Learn more in ‘A DIY Guide to PR’
Using her 13+ years’ experience of working in PR Kerry has written a new ebook, A DIY Guide to PR: for crafters, makers and independent retailers, full of practical advice on planning a campaign, dealing with journalists, creating professional media material, using social media and ultimately getting exposure for your fabulous products in the best-selling media outlets (when you don’t have a PR budget!). Purchase it here > the A DIY Guide to PR page .