How do you write for the media? In Part 4 of our Writing for the Media series, we’ve updated our guide to writing media releases – also referred to as ‘press releases’.
Our best tip for writing great media releases that get the attention of journalists is to write them using the same structure as news stories.
Take a look at a news story, go on, do it right now.
You will notice that there is a lot of important information at the top of the story and less (and less important) information as the story goes on. This is called ‘the inverted pyramid’ style of writing and it’s done for lots of reasons including drawing the reader into the story, telling them as many of the facts as possible as quickly as possible (thereby keeping their interest) and for another reason that harks back to the times when print was king.
In the old days, stories sometimes had to be cut (usually to fit in last-minute advertisements). Going back to the author or editor to do this was time-consuming. In the days of sending paper to an actual printing press, it was (at the very least, in terms of time, but for many also in terms of money) a luxury few newspapers could really afford. So stories were written so that the last few pars could reasonably be dropped off without losing any vital information.
Every news story needs a ‘lead’ or opening paragraph. The lead has to quickly answer these vital questions: who, what, when, where, why and how and the most important question to answer is “why” i.e. why the story is newsworthy. Otherwise, what’s the point of reading the story? As many of these questions as possible, preferably all of them, need to be answered in the opening paragraph. Some journalists are so experienced at doing this they can answer all the questions in the first sentence and still make the reader want to read on. You should aim to ultimately do this too.
Example of a media release lead
Specialist public relations business 64 Media today launched Press Pass, a media training program specifically designed to help financial services professionals market their businesses via the media, at a business lunch in Sydney.
Who?[64 Media]? what?[launched Press Pass, a media training program]? when?[today] where?[Sydney]? why?(are we telling you this) [to tell you about media training]? how?(64 Media launched the program) [via a launch].
That’s the lead.The rest of the release tells the rest of the story. In telling the rest of the story, aim to support what you have said with evidence.This might be first person quotes, perhaps from you or perhaps from some great other experts. Statistics or research can also help back up the things you have to say throughout the release.
We usually structure our media releases in the following way.
Need help writing media releases? Contact 64 Media.