Press releases - which types of news releases really
work the best?
Some on one of the recent publishing discussion groups recently wrote:
" The writing of a press release requires no special skill. There is
'magic' or 'secret' involved here. Given sufficient training, anyone
can learn to write a simple release that will be acceptable to
traditional media. ... "
I’m sorry, I laughed when I read this. If life were only this
simple. I guess maybe it’s true judging from the glut of releases
posted at the free online distribution services. Writing a news release
But what I see indicates that most of them are not worth looking at
and are not readily publishable for many reasons. So they fail to
achieve their primary goal or objective.
I think the question is one of whether the news release your write
is successful in terms of meeting your publicity goals.
I personally don’t think that writing news releases is easy at
all, at least not ones that are successful in getting publicity that
Oh, it may be easy to write a news release, but how about achieving
the real goal, which is turning it into return on investment.
I think writing a news release that is really successful at getting
publicity can be exceedingly difficult. People come to me after having
spent many thousands of dollars with other public relations firms
and copywriters asking me to try and succeed where many others have
To me it is almost like trying to get an agent or publisher for a book,
or getting an article published in a magazine. You have to get used
to the rejection and low response rates. You send out a lot, and
hope to get a few yeses. Sometimes even one will make your day.
Basically you are asking a publisher if he or she will publish something.
They only say yes if it helps their bottom line. They base their
decision on whether publishing your material will increase the number
of paying subscriptions or the number and amount they receive from
Your news release is the decision document. It competes against all
the other news releases and other publishing priorities these publishers
have on their plates.
So the news release is a VERY IMPORTANT DOCUMENT since your livelihood
depends on it.
I am constantly learning and studying what it takes to be successful
as a copywriter. I believe that it is a profession as demanding as
that of being an attorney (which is what I once was once upon a time
There may not be magic or secrets, but there is considerable science
and a psychology in communicating persuasively and effectively with
these special types of very important people – the media.
I am asked to write news releases to match specific client goals for
publicity. These vary. The goal is not only to get the news release
published, but to have the actual publication produce some ultimate
action on the part of the audience it is designed and intended for.
It the case of most publishers, the most meaningful yardstick at
the end of the day is “how many books did we sell”. In
some cases, it might be a politician asking for votes. In other cases,
it’s a downtrodden citizen asking for public outcry and legal
or political change.
It all comes down to the news release you send to the media. Is it
good enough to get them to publish something? Can you meet their
needs and the clients needs at the same time? This is the real challenge.
This is the gauntlet.
I believe there is considerable skill involved in learning how to write
news releases, especially successful ones, that is, those that not
only get published, but they result in the desired action, and tangible
To me someone with a book has to realize that the goal of the publicity
is to sell books and maybe more. The type of articles that motivate
people to action is what you have to craft. You certainly can write
a book announcement, but will it get published and will it produce
I think there are way more than just two types of news releases for
books. You can generalize and think “Book announcement” or “book
available for review” and “other” if that works
for you, but I’m a copywriter and I write news releases and
get people publicity for a living. My observations are that book
reviews don’t sell that many books. Feature stories, problem
solving tips articles, human interest stories, issue analysis and
commentary – these are the galvanizing in depth emotionally
and intellectually engaging articles that produce deep and lasting
In my book Trash Proof News Releases (available as a free pdf file
download at my web site), I’ve identified several categories
of types of news releases for book authors and publishers, which
I observed worked best over many years of transmitting news releases.
Each of these has special purposes and design.
Local human interest stories
Major news events
Problem solving tips articles
New, remarkable book, products or services
Public service announcements
Letters to the editors
Radio & TV interviews
Short feature stories
Full feature articles
Internet/web site traffic generation releases
I view each of these as a separate tool in the arsenal of the publicist
or promoter. Each has a different style of presentation, organization,
content, and length. Each has a different purpose and target media.
I’ve also written that there are perhaps two categories of news
releases, one intended for print, and the other intended for radio
and tv, and that they should be written differently because of the
different needs of each type of publishing medium. This makes sense
because print needs information because it stimulates thought. Print
publication requires printed words because publishes publish. Radio & TV
use orally spoken words and visual images to evoke emotional or physical
response. They talk to the heart to trigger primal hormonal responses.
So when you write a news release to each you are more persuasive when
you take these differences into account and give the media what they
want and need.
So how you write a news release matters. You pitch to persuade media
to write something.
Your goal with a news release is to get the media to take an action:
1. write about you favorably
2. request more information so they can write about you favorably.
3. interview you
That's about it. There are few other alternatives you can ask.
You have to give the media what they want and are accustomed to publishing
if you are to be successful in getting them to give you coverage.
You also need to carefully identify what you want people to see about
you that will professionally brand you and get them calling you.
Sure, you could be promoting a book, a professional service, a product,
an invention or an event. But the media will not give you free advertising.
They only will publish something that fits within the spectrum of
news, education, or entertainment that their readers and subscribers
want, and that their advertisers won’t object to.
You want publicity that achieves a return on investment that rivals
and even exceeds your best marketing. So what you write in a news
release and present and propose to media has to run a gauntlet and
avoid the fatal errors that will result in your news release being
quickly deleted with a click or placed in the trash can.
Your press releases need to be specifically designed to trigger public
interest and media interest. You must quite deliberately and systematically
select and then present information that:
1. interests lots of people in your target media audience
2. has significant perceived value for that audience.
3. is easy for media to verify and run with.
You maximize your chances of getting feature stories and detailed interviews
if you provide the media with what they need to do their job.
I looked over several years of news releases and success stories we’ve
documented and compiled the common lessons learned. Here is a quick
list of the best possible ways for you to increase your chances of
getting favorable coverage and what you need to emphasize when you
write and distribute a news release. I call this my “20 News
Release Content Choices to Maximize Feature Story Coverage and Detailed
Interviews with Major Media”.
a dramatic personal story that describes achievement in the face of
adversity plus a little humor
a problem solving tips article on a crucial topic that shows how you
can help the people that you can help the most
an innovative product or service that makes people want it because
of the benefits it offers
a dramatic and interesting photograph that really tells a 1,000 word
story at a glance
a new development or situation that lots of people will be interested
in because of the way it affects them
a personal battle between the forces of good and evil, or David and
a truly heartwarming tale with a happy or remarkable ending
new effective techniques or tactics to improving a problem or situation
that is commonly faced
new creativity that makes people feel good or experience heightened
a story that makes people cringe in fear, howl with delight, or experience
intense desire or want.
an explanation of something that demystifies something complex that
confounds a lot of people
news, analysis and commentary on a controversial issue or topic
localized people stories and media access to the local people involved.
innovative and new ways to have fun, save money, help people, increase
their enjoyment, protect the environment, and help them get more
out of life.
unusual, hot and wacky ideas, products, activities, and situations
mouthwatering recipes, food, culinary delights or opportunities
educational, unusual and hard to believe or fascinating news, data,
information, little known or even secret never revealed before knowledge
record breaking achievements, competitions, paradoxes, dilemmas, anything
that confounds the human spirit
knowledge, ideas or information that astounds people, enlightens people
and raises their consciousness to new levels and inspires them to
experience new feelings.
remarkable little things people may not know about, that make people’s
dreams come true.
I do not believe that there are any limits on how long a news release
needs to be. It depends on why you are sending it and what your goal
happens to be.
I published Trash Proof News Releases in 2001 at the peak of the fax
era, when one page news releases were the best way to be persuasive
and effective with media.
Times have now changed. Email is preferred over fax. Now with email
technologies, that length and style of presentation isn’t matched
to the technology we use any longer.
With email sent via text, paragraph length matters, font and screen
size, readability, screen changes, and a host of other factors. With
email html, some of these factors matter more or less. But you can
also use photos and graphics. These can be powerfully integrated
into a presentation.
We see media responding favorably to short one to two pagers as readily
as ready-to-publish 3,000 word feature story articles with photographs.
With email html, length doesn’t matter. The length of what
you send is not as important as the quality and content and whether
it is what the target media can use. Persuasion matters. Content
The bottom line however is what happens after you transmit the news
release. The end results are what determine your answer and satisfaction
with the effectiveness of the news release. I determine that by the
quantity and quality of the articles that get published or the interviews
that are booked, and ultimately by the sales that result from those
My best advice is to write something where you help the people you
can help the most, entertain the people you can entertain the most,
or educate the people who need you advice as well as you can.
When you write a news release, give the media your best shot. Give
them a ready to publish article. Give them a ready to use show script
and the Q & A’s needed for an interview. Give them not
only what they need to make a decision, but to do what you are asking
them to do.
That’s what you need to put into your news release.
And if you do that, I’d like to see it. Send it to me and I’ll
be happy to give you comments.
Paul J. Krupin
Direct Contact PR
Reach the Right Media in the Right Market with the Right Message
Have a nice day!