A powerful beginning and end with stick with your listeners
- Oprah Winfrey
It’s well talked about in the PR industry that journalists receive between 50 and 100 press releases a day and use about one a day.
You would have a 1 in 50 or a 1 in 100 chance of getting your story picked up if this was down to chance. Luckily it isn’t. There is a way to beat the odds and get picked up every time.
In Selling the Invisible, marketing expert Harry Beckwith writes about the study of an apple and the pomegranate. When people are shown a series of objects for a few seconds, say a group of fruits like an apple, pear, peach, plum, and a pomegranate, what are they most likely to remember? The first and the last item in the list – the apple and the pomegranate.
The same is true for you PR copy writing. Grab the journalists attention and you’ll get them to actually carry on reading your piece. And this is the first stage of getting picked up.
In journalism, when a headline of a story is buried somewhere in the middle of it, it’s called ‘burying the lead’. It not good journalism.
In broadcasting media ‘The Lead’ is when journalists introduce a story. In television this is typically fifteen to thirty seconds. It’s meant to be so intriguing that you’ll want to hear the rest of the story. If all the leads are good then you’ll watch the entire newscast.
A strong start is relevant for all writing you work on and all tools you produce. For a press release this is really simple. You get a headline – use it wisely. This is not the headline you’d like to see the journalist use – this is your number one pitch to the journalist to get them to carry on reading.
It is normal convention to get into your release – geographical location, date and companies positioning statement. Boring! Let’s break convention. At NettResults our agency standard it to add three bullet points after the heading. Be bold, be provocative, and above all sell the story so the journalist will read on.
How to end? Use the last paragraph of your press release to quote the client in some provocative or newsworthy way. Use the end of your press release format to include a call to action for the journalist, so they can reach you and get further information, images or an interview.
Start strong. End Strong. Be strong.