What makes a media release effective?

Ryan Tippet | May 16, 2023

Sending a media release out into the world can be a great way to raise your business’s profile, draw attention to an issue, or announce something to the public.

But what exactly is a media release? And what makes one effective?

When you’ve got news to share or a story to tell, here’s how you can do it with a media release.

What is a media release?

A media release, sometimes called a ‘press release’, is an article that an organisation writes in a style similar to a newspaper story and sends to the news media.

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Approaching your media release with a clear vision will give you the best chance of making it into the news. Image by Suzy Hazelwood / Pexels licence

Organisations send media releases when they have something to say. If the news media think the release is interesting enough, they may turn it into a news story.

In other words, a media release is a way to get information out to a wider audience through the news. People see news media as a good source of information, so this approach adds legitimacy and importance to your communications.

Visit Scoop.co.nz’s website to see examples of media releases in New Zealand.

What should a media release look like?

Use short, sharp sentences and paragraphs. Aim to fit your media release onto one page.

Like a good newspaper story, an effective media release should:

Give your media release an attention-grabbing news hook

The news hook is the key piece of information that makes a release newsworthy. The headline usually captures the hook in a concise and eye-catching way.

Lots of things can create a news hook. Common news hooks are things that:

The next time you’re reading the paper, watching the news, or listening to a bulletin, ask yourself: ‘What makes these stories newsworthy? Why has the outlet chosen to cover this?’

Use colourful quotes to inject flavour and personality

Colourful quotes add extra flavour to a release while helping to communicate its main messages. Journalists and news editors are drawn to colourful quotes because they add drama and excitement to a news story.

Write quotes in complete sentences that stand on their own. Aim for a tone that’s spoken — not too robotic. And attribute them to a named spokesperson.

Use the inverted pyramid to place key information at the start

One simple way to structure any piece of writing is the inverted pyramid, which puts the most important information first.

A release, like a news story, needs to communicate the key points at the very top, then provide supporting information in decreasing order of importance as it goes on.

Readers will often skim the first couple of sentences of an article — or even just read the headline — and then move on. That includes journalists and editors, who make a snap decision from the first couple of lines about whether to keep reading a release.

How does a media release get picked up?

Once your media release has an attention-grabbing news hook, colourful quotes, and an effective structure, it’s almost ready to send.

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Once you’ve written, finalised, and sent out your media release, the only thing left to do is wait and see if it gets picked up. Image by Wes Hicks / Unsplash licence

Apply the finishing touches

Make sure your media release is accurate and polished. Double-check dates, links, and the spelling of names and locations. Make sure to include an email address and phone number for interested news media to follow up.

Include visually interesting images

If possible, include a photo or two with your media release. An interesting visual component adds a huge incentive for news media to use your release.

Aim for images that are colourful, unique, and have a human element. Include a caption and photo credit too.

Target relevant news media

Send your release, with images, to editors and journalists who might be interested in telling your story. This might be local media, industry publications, or even national outlets.

You can find email addresses to contact online. Where possible, send your release to individuals (rather than generic addresses) and include a brief personal note. Offer to provide more information or an interview if it’s needed.

Send your release early in the day, and be mindful of when a publication goes to print. Give them plenty of time to include your release. The Community Comms Collective maintains an up-to-date list of generic addresses for media organisations all around New Zealand.
Read the list on the Community Comms Collective website

Where can you learn more about media releases?

On Write Online, of course! Try it out free for 7 days:
Sign up on the Write Online website

To learn more about how to write, format, and send media releases, check out our two-part video series:
Hit the Headlines with your Media Release on Write Online

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