Even through the fast shifts toward online media, the press release remains a staple of the strategic communication industry. However, it has taken on two similar but divergent forms: the media release and the story release. A media release (or news release, or press release) is the traditional format for announcements to the media. Conversely, a story release is a journalistic-style feature story, often written for consumers on the web, that could also be used and amended by a reporter.
This post deals with the traditional media release to be followed by a post on the story release.
Seitel’s The Practice of Public Relations (2011) suggests that the traditional media release contains certain essential components. Here are the 10 I look for in a quality media release:
- Focus: a media release should have one, and only one, topic. If two topics need to be released, write two releases.
- Newsworthiness: each release should have an element of interest that would inspire a reporter to write about the topic.
- Lede: the release’s first sentence should contain the facts describing the “who, what, when, where, and why” of the topic.
- Headline: a headline sets the tone and agenda for a media release and should be written in active stylewith a verb.
- Neither puffery nor jargon: releases should not include exclamatory or technical language.
- Nourishing Quotes: each release should contain one or two quotes that could be used by a reporter to bolster the story.
- Boilerplate: the end of each release should be home to a company description and/or descriptions of any specific entities described in the release.
- Media Contact: the release should indicate who a reporter could contact for further information.
- Perfect Grammar: spelling, punctuation, and grammar are fundamentally important. A media release should contain zero errors.
- Brevity: media releases should be short and free of wasted words.