By Jennigay Coetzer

writing skills-8

Every press release should have an objective behind it that is in line with the overall media strategy.




This applies equally to press releases that are distributed to the media and those that are posted on a website.

It is no good just sitting down and saying: “We need to send out a press release, so what shall we write about today?”

It is always a good idea to have a brainstorming session to identify potential target publications and come up with interesting topics to write about that will suit the type of audience each of these is addressing.

All those involved in this session will need to put themselves in the mindset of the audience they are looking to influence and consider what they would be interested in hearing about or need to know.

It is also best to pick a narrowly focused topic or angle for each press release you are writing. This will help the flow of the content and will avoid ending up with a fragmented article that has too many ideas in it and does the company more harm than good if it is published.

Having come up with a focused topic, decide on a spokesperson who is best suited to provide the rich, meaningful content that is needed for writing a publishable press release. The spokesperson should be knowledgeable and enthusiastic about the topic being discussed. Otherwise, don’t expect the reader to be interested in what he or she has to say.

Bear in mind that it is risky to interview one person and attribute the quotes to another individual if he or she does not have the knowledge to back up what has been said in the press release.

If it is an interesting story, a journalist may well follow up with a phone call and ask probing questions about the content of the article or want more information about the topic. For similar reasons it is not a good idea to localise an international press release just by changing the spokesperson’s name, if that individual is not equipped to handle follow-up calls.

Jennigay Coetzer is a  freelance journalist, writer, author and trainer. Email her at jennigay@icon.co.za  for more information about her media training or writing courses or connect with her on LinkedIn. An ebook version of her book A Perfect Press Release – or Not? can be downloaded free from her website: www.jennigay.co.za.

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