I was recently invited to present a webinar on ‘Writing an effective media release’ as part of Deb Pilgrim’s Business Building Blocks program. Here are some of the insights I shared with the group…

When do you need a media release?

Media releases are one of the tools commonly used in public relations to announce something newsworthy about an organisation. It could be, for example, the launch of a new product or service, the company’s anniversary or support of a community event, interesting industry trends, the release of the results of a survey and much more.

If you have a story you believe would be of interest to various media outlets and, more importantly, to their readers, then a media release might just be the way to go.

But where do you actually start?

The overall structure

The structure of an effective media release is one of an inverted pyramid with the most important information at the top and the least important details at the bottom of the media release.

There are two reasons for such a structure:

1. It is important to grab the journalist’s attention as quickly as possible with all the relevant information
2. When stories are edited by editors, if it needs to be made shorter, the information will first be cut out from the bottom.


The winning format

Your media release should start with the words ‘Media release’ and the date, followed by a strong and catchy headline – yet not too sensational – which captures the main angle of your story.

Media Release Format

The first paragraph(s) of your media release is crucial. This is where you tell the journalist the crunch of your story. It must include the most important information – the five W’s and H (who, what, where, when, why & how), as relevant – and stick to one angle only.

For example:
Financial advisers Numbers Are Us (WHO) will be holding a seminar ‘Forecasting for a healthy business’ (WHAT) on Tuesday, 16 August from 6 pm (WHEN) at 123 That Road, Sydney (WHERE).
The two-hour seminar will provide small business owners with practical tips and resources to better forecast their business’ growth (HOW).

Following this, you can delve into the details of your story with quotes from your business owner, clients or an industry group to support your statement, where relevant. In any cases, make sure you receive consent from the third party to include their quotes in your media release.
To finish things off, don’t forget to include a website address and/or phone number your potential clients can use to get in touch with you.
And finally, provide the media with contact details of someone who could answer their questions if they require more information, a photo or even an interview.


The content killers

A media release can quickly become ‘pluggy’, boring or simply over-complicated. When writing, make sure to avoid:

• Jargon & acronyms specific to your industry
• Long sentences & complex words
• ‘Salesy’ statements about the organisation
• Buzzwords (e.g. end-to-end, unique, solution, innovative, state-of-the-art, etc.)
• Emotions and adjectives should be reserved for quotes only


Have you ever tried to write a media release? What were your roadblocks?