Tight Ship’s co-captains are excited to welcome our pal Deepak Saini as a guest blogger! A colleague of Julia’s from her marketing agency days, Deepak is a powerhouse of PR and charm. Read on for his contribution to the Ship’s Log.

You’ve just written a press release for your awesome upcoming event, and are ready to send it, but do you know if it will ever be seen? Most press releases will be deleted before they’re even read. Take it from me, a former news anchor. On average, my inbox was flooded with nearly 500 press releases a day. Very few caught my eye. So, what can you do to make sure your press release gets the attention you think it deserves? Here are my tips:

1. Write a Winning Subject Line

This is the hardest part of writing any press release. The words in your subject line determine your open rate.

  • Keep it short. What’s the point of writing a clever subject line that gets cut off? Keep it to 50 characters, or seven to eight words.
  • Get straight to the point.
  • Be charming. Show some personality, but don’t be too cheesy or campy.

2. A Winning Press Release is Full of Ws

Underneath the header and subhead comes my favorite part of the press release: the 5 Ws. Remember those from grade school? Who, What, When, Where, and Why are your friends.

Journalists are speed readers and are always pressed for time. If they can’t find the key elements to your press release within the first few sentences, they’re over it and moving onto the next thing. They want to know what’s happening, at what time, where, and why it’s relevant—right at the top.

A press release is an extension of your brand, so make sure it’s consistent with your brand messaging.

3. Visual/B-roll Opportunities

In the second paragraph, list any exciting visual or selling opportunities your event will offer. If you’re pitching to news stations, magazines, and many other media outlets, they won’t cover your event if it’s visually boring. Let them know what visuals they can expect to see. You can also include a link to an electronic press kit in your press release.

4. Compelling Quotes

Always include a quote that contains flowery language and makes your press release sing. The quote should be from a representative who can speak to the importance of why the event is happening and can elicit some emotion from the reader.

5. Win ‘Em, Don’t Lose ‘Em

There are so many things that annoy journalists when they read press releases. I’ve frequently hit the delete button over the following:

  • Don’t send a press release with spelling and grammatical errors. You have no idea how many of these I’ve seen. Grammarly is a life-saver.
  • Don’t send it to the wrong person. If it’s meant for Rachel, don’t send it to Paul. You read that right—I’ve received plenty of press releases that were meant for me, but the sender didn’t change the name and address of a previous recipient. That’s an automatic delete.  
  • Don’t make your press release more than a page. Keep it as concise as possible.  If you’re sharing any pictures, B-roll or other information, include them as an attachment. Even better, if you can include links to those photos or b-roll assets instead (and ensure the links work), do it! Make it as easy as possible for your recipient to get every file.

6. When to Send

Send your press release out with as much advance notice as possible. Make it at least a week before your event, so assignment editors can have enough time to map out their week and file it away.

7. How to Send

Media lists should be your bread and butter. Subscribe to earned media platforms such as Cision are worth it, because these platforms routinely update their lists of global, national, regional and local media contacts and influencers. You can also use these platforms to build custom send lists for your different media audiences,  ensuring the press release you send will be get to the right inboxes.

8. Getting the Interview

So you’ve sent the press release out and a member of the media calls for an interview. Now what? Give them an expert to speak with! Include your spokesperson’s information so the media knows who to ask for, and prepare that person to be ready for an interview in case the media comes calling.

Now you’re set to go! Download a free template below for your next event, along with an infographic about how to write a compelling press release.