How to write a more effective media release

The Media Release Formula

Who. What. When. Where. Why and How. I learned it 20 years ago. Still the formula, right? Sure, but you’re probably boring people. There are often better alternatives.

Occasionally I like to use a bold hairy quite right up front for instant drama and impact. Like this:
“More infant wombats with easily curable illnesses will die unless State government immediately starts upgrading facilities at Wandin Valley Animal Hospital,” said Simon Bowen, the Hospital Director yesterday.
With more tech, entrepreneurs everywhere and a sharing economy, a new ‘story-telling’ formula has emerged. I am indebted here to the enduringly helpful Joan Stewart, who credits Ann Wylie for the X, Y, Z, A formula.
“It looks like this: X (users) who have struggled with Y (problem) will now be able to Z (benefit), thanks to A (product or service).”
It reads like this:
Commuters who now spend an hour each day driving from Sunrise Beach to Osage Beach will soon be able to make the trip in 15 minutes, thanks to a new bridge that the ABC Company will build this summer.
The right formula depends on what the release is about and to whom it is being sent. Remember not all reporters report news the same way.
If there is a different angle for a different audience, right a different release.

What NOT to include in a Media Release

There are plenty of people who still think a Media Release is a multipage advertisement for a product or service or announcement.

It’s not.

A Media Release is closer to an Article.  At least, it should have an angle of interest to a publication that will serve their readership.

Try to help journalists meet their difficult deadlines by providing ready copy (text) they can lift straight out.

That includes strong quotes, with clear and accurate attribution, and a balance of sources.

Don’t use adjectives. The media release is completely impersonal. More often than not, it should have a ‘newsy’ objective feel.

You are not launching a much-needed fantastic or exciting event. You are launching an event. Include your adjectives if you have to) in a direct quote from a person.

A new XYZ event will open on DATE to coincide with ABC. “This is an exciting and much-needed event,” said XXX from YYY. “It’s fantastic the level of support we’ve had.”

Don’t bury the lead. Get to the point immediately. Use the ‘pyramid. The most important information should be right up front. Editors and journalists will edit for space by cutting from the bottom up.

Don’t harass writers and editors by sending a teaser email and then asking them to contact you. They’re busy. Send them your info in the body of an email. Give them whatever they need to run a piece. If there are pictures available, let them know. Avoid sending attachments as they may not get opened due to antivirus protocols in many media organisations.

Hope that helps. If you have any further pointers, please feel free to share them here.