I often send or receive press releases and there are mistakes I frequently see in practice. I do not want to copy some tips from a book. I want to show you how you can make a journalist’s work easier and successfully deliver your message knowing both sides of this field.
How to attach images to your press release?
Look around on your favourite news site or online magazine. As you can see journalists upload images to their articles even if it is just a stock photo. Some website’s templates cannot even handle a post without a thumbnail image.
In the world of online media, you cannot send a press release without a photo. An image with 16:9 aspect ratio (for example a 1920×1080 px large photo) is recommended. Every post must have an image that appears on the front page or when sharing the article on social media.
If you do not attach one hopefully the journalist will find a good one, but you will miss the selection of a very important element of your message. I am sure there are some related photos on your computer, but your smartphone’s camera will be enough for the job too.
If you want to be professional about this send an image with the following aspect ratios: 16:9, 9:16 and 1:1. This way the journalist can select from multiple layouts for the article and share the image on most social media sites. If the attachments together are larger than 25 megabytes use cloud storage for sharing the images.
I often receive images without a normal file name, so they will have that random-looking number as a name. It might be a minor detail, but for Google, it matters, and it can also help the journalist.
Who is on the picture? What is in the picture? Which article does this image belong to? You can write these details in a file name and use an underscore instead of space so it will surely stay readable. This is important because online magazines have thousands of photos on their servers and your images can be lost very quickly without a proper file name.
How to sell?
I can understand that you would like to tell everything about your product or service at the beginning, but you are not writing a want-ad. Highlighting the first two paragraphs is not a lead and the title cannot handle more than selecting a topic and grabbing interest.
Sometimes I see that people try to sell everything in the title so at least that single line might stick in the reader’s head even if they do not read the article. Writing a long list of sponsors or too much self-promotion in the lead is also a frequent mistake.
The lead answers the most important questions about the topic and has a strong first few words. It is no longer than 3-5 lines. Here you can share shocking statistics or add a famous person’s name who is taking part in your campaign or event. Long paragraphs often look scary for readers so your title and lead must sell the entire article first and then you can move on with the details.
When I was writing this article, I did not want to tell everything in the lead or convince you to check out my Linkedin page. My goal was to create an article that looks useful and true to you, hoping that you’ll read the whole text. If you are already reading this, I think it worked and maybe I can stay in your head for another minute. Even for you, it is better if people read the whole article and learn more about your topic.
How to make it reader-friendly?
It is not obligatory, but for example, it is highly recommended to add a quote to your press release. Quotes look great on websites and they can add another voice to your message. If the magazine shares the article on social media, they can use the quote for the post.
This can also help you to tell your story easier as some people might understand your message when told from a different point-of-view. If the quote is from a famous person who works with you, you can increase the value of the press release.
Keep in mind that you might write the press release in your work hours, but people’s job is not to read it. We are obviously not creating content because we want to do some sort of charity work. We have a plan or a goal with the article, but readers just want to find something interesting or fun.