Writing a Good Press Release – Reputation At Stake
In my previous article I wrote about how to make press releases work for you and not against you. In the piece I also highlighted various situations whereby as PR practitioners we more often find ourselves in familiar situations – performing a balancing act between the client’s brief and what we know to be newsworthy.
Now comes the tricky part – negotiating the content and flow of the press release with the client before settling on the final draft. The fate of writing a good press release will ultimately hang on the gist and angle you choose. It will also depend on client’s understanding on how PR works and most importantly, how the newsroom operates.
As PR practitioners, we sometimes find ourselves in challenging situations especially when trying to explain, to a certain extent, defend our interpretation of the client’s brief as well as the style and flow of the release. The brief normally includes anything and everything that pertains to the specific project or event and it’s our role as PR experts to sieve through the information, make sense of it all and then present it in a newsworthy format.
Of course there are those few times where you will need to put your foot in the door especially with those clients that demand the inclusion of material they feel is ‘news’ and hence should be presented in a way that suits them. Now, no one likes to be on the offensive and in this case, the idea of having to disagree with the client is not particularly a welcome one but sometimes it is necessary.
But this situation need not be a painful or intimidating one – if handled correctly. Remember, over and above the coverage you receive you also have a professional reputation to protect by what you send to the newsroom.
Here’s a technique I normally use in writing a good press release:
- First, listen to the client’s point of view and the reason they feel that something (or some things) needs to be in the copy of the release and probably even feature prominently.
- Second, patiently explain your strategy, which in this case is the angle – mostly informed by the person (Editor)/publication you are targeting.
- Third, explain the content – what needs to be in the copy and how much needs to be in. Regardless of how much info the client has shared, not every thing needs to be included as you run the risk of ending up lengthy releases.
- Last but not least, explain the flow of your release – why some aspects of the release have been articulated individually while others have been merged and summarized.
Just like in any negotiations, both parties should be willing to a make few sacrifices. Find a middle ground and a way to creatively accommodate the client’s suggestions. At the end of the day, you might not get your way all the time but writing a good press release will at least give you a fighting chance in the newsroom.