Be it a new product release, a new brand ambassador, or a change of direction, a press release can often be seen as a way for a brand to announce things to the world in a controlled manner.
This also means that how you write the brief will play a rather large role in how the brand messaging will get across to the masses, and an even bigger role in determining whether your editor will approve of the release and publish it.
Editors can be rather picky – that’s the nature of their job. They’re often very busy and swamped with other tasks on top of editing. Therefore, most editors have developed a sixth sense, so to speak, to detect the things that are important in a press release, in this case, to see if it’s even worth their time when going through the piles of pitches that come their way.
Is it newsworthy?
First things first – is it newsworthy? Is the brand, the product, or the announcement that you’re writing about noteworthy enough to even be published?
This is one of the first things that editors, and you, for the most part, will have to consider before even proceeding with the rest of it. You can check if it’s newsworthy against this list.
This step ensures that the editor would not be wasting their time going through a press release that isn’t relevant, and also go towards building up the relationship that you have with the editor in the long run.
Are the attached images high quality?
Another aspect of press releases is the number of high-resolution images that you have at your disposal. No one wants to read a long form copy with no breaks or context as to what you’re talking about in the press release itself.
But why does it have to be high-resolution? Well, for one, you never know in which format your press release is going to be published in.
It’s very important to have high-resolution images to go along with the press release to ensure that the product will look as good as it can. In general, a 4K image is always a good resolution to aim for.
When possible, "humanize" the images – this means to have a person or human element in it, as it helps readers relate to the content better. If it's for a new product, have pictures showcasing the product or service in use by people.
If it's news of a ceremony or signing, ensure you have high resolution pictures of the VIPs.
Is it original?
Originality is another point that you’ll need to consider. Has this piece been written before? If so, how can you differentiate it from previous versions? Is there new information that the readers can gain from your piece that they couldn’t have gained from the first piece?
Publishers and editors have a reputation to maintain. Therefore, originality is important. It should matter to you as a writer as well. You wouldn’t want to have a reputation for being someone who plagiarizes another person's work as it would hinder your career and make editors not want to work with you in the future.
Pay attention to how your piece is different from others. It’s true that there’s nothing new under the sun, but at least make it distinguishable from that other press release that you read for reference.
Did you get all the details?
Spare no details in your piece. If you’re writing a press release on a new product, find out how much the product is going to cost, how many of them are made (if it’s a limited edition run), where it’s going to be available, and when.
Editors LOVE having the details, or at least, specificities (Editor's note: This sentiment is approved by this particular editor)
This should be the main “meat” of your piece rather than the brand’s background – you can save that for the opening line or boilerplate at the bottom of your press release.
Here's the next part of this series where we share three more impactful things editors look for in a press release.