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Seven Steps to Writing Irresistible Media Announcements

By Dawn Josephson

Whether you’re announcing a new product line your company offers or a new appointment to your executive team, you need the media’s help getting your message out. After all, if the public doesn’t view your company as making significant progress or standing out in your field, then they won’t think of you when they’re ready to make a buying decision. So how do you get the media to take notice and feature your company in their pages or on their show? The key is to write and regularly send out media announcements that elicit attention.

Unfortunately, most business professionals don’t know how to write effective media announcements. In their attempt to supply the media with information that generates interest, they inadvertently write nothing more than a long and often boring advertisement that ultimately ends up in the trash.

The fact is that 95% of all media announcements never make it past an editor’s or producer’s desk. That’s right – 95%. So your goal is to make your media announcement one of the 5% that actually gets read and acted upon, not tossed in the recycle pile.

So what exactly is a media announcement? It’s a one-page announcement of some newsworthy event. Depending on your company, your newsworthy event could be the fact that you merged with another company, that you have a new spokesperson, that you have a new and improved product, or that you won an industry award.

Realize that your media announcement is definitely NOT an advertisement. If you want to place an ad for your company, then call the advertisement department of any media outlet. They’ll be happy to help you.

Regardless of what you’re announcing, all successful media announcements follow a few writing and formatting ground rules. As you create your media announcement, be sure to adhere to the following:

Ground Rule #1: Size Matters: Use a clear typeface on 8 ” x 11” paper with one-inch margins. Times New Roman in 10, 11, or 12 point font is best, and keep the announcement limited to one page. If you have to make your print tiny in order to squeeze in additional details, then you’re saying too much. Three hundred words or so is all you get to make your point. As Shakespeare said, “Brevity is the soul of wit.” In the case of media announcements, “Brevity is the showcase of your wits.”

Ground Rule #2: Know Your Focus: Even though you likely have many exciting things happening in your company at the same time, your media announcement must focus on only one. Nothing turns the media off more than an announcement that attempts to cover multiple topics or that goes off on various tangents. Prior to writing your announcement, determine the one specific topic your announcement will be about. Resist the temptation to add side points or to brag about unrelated items. While you may believe that giving additional information enables the media to “pick and choose” something that interests them, in reality you’re simply showing unprofessionalism. Keep your focus laser sharp at all times.

Ground Rule #3: Grab ‘Em Early: Craft a compelling headline that immediately conveys why your information is important. If you’ve ever wondered how important headlines really are, consider the facts: First, you have exactly five seconds to impress the media enough to continue reading. And your headline is the first thing people see. So if your headline is weak, then no one will bother reading the rest of your announcement. Second, great headlines can increase the response to your announcement by as much as 2,100 percent. No, that’s not a typo—that’s 2,100 percent! That’s a huge response, and well worth the additional effort it takes to create a winning headline.

The most popular headline style for the media is the “New Formula” (state the new product, service, or thing, and then state the benefits). Such a headline works because people naturally respond to new things. Plus, using the word “new” in a headline sparks curiosity. Some examples include: “New CEO of ABC Company Puts a Focus Back to the Customers” and “New Widget 1000 Increases ABC Company’s Profits by 2000%.”

Ground Rule #4: Be Clear: State the purpose of your media announcement in the first paragraph. Never expect someone to search for information or the “point” of your announcement. If the media professionals can’t understand your message immediately, then they’ll think it’s too complicated to be conveyed in a two-minute radio or TV spot, or in a one paragraph print spot.

Ground Rule #5: Use Quotes Liberally: Talk to the media directly in your announcement. Show them that you’re not just a faceless company trying to get some free PR. Quote your CEO, a member of your executive team, your spokesperson, or even a key client in your media release. “Direct quotes carry more weight and help sell your ideas,” says Dawn Josephson, writing expert and author of….

Ground Rule #6: Write it Right: Sure, you want to gain attention, so breaking some grammar rules for added impact or emphasis is okay. But don’t overdo it or you may appear careless. Remember, you’re showing the media your professionalism and selling your ideas. If your announcement is riddled with errors, the media will think your company is too. Always have another qualified person read your announcement prior to sending it out.

Ground Rule #7: Who You Gonna Call? Always list your company’s contact information, including a contact person, phone number, web site, and email address, prominently. The goal of any media announcement is to elicit media attention and get them to call you for more information. If they have to hunt for your contact info, they likely won’t bother.

Write Your Way into the Headlines: Media announcements are a great way to keep your company’s name in the limelight. And the more you structure your announcement according to the media’s preferences, the higher your chances of being in that 5% that gets results. When you follow these seven ground rules for creating media announcements, you’ll reap the rewards of more name recognition, which ultimately leads to higher profits.

Ready to take your media announcements to the next level? Then keep these tips in mind:

  • The average media person receives hundreds of media announcements per day. To make yours stand out, stay within the one-page guideline, and say something meaningful.

  • Media professionals are only interested in one thing: knowing how your information will benefit their audience. Keep their audience in mind at all times and gear your information for them.

  • Saying something outrageous is a great way to generate interest. People naturally love controversy, and if you can stir things up, you’ll get lots of exposure. Just remember that you must be able to prove everything you say. So if you want to say something just for sensationalism, but you can’t back it up, don’t. You must be able to support everything you print.

Read other articles and learn more about Dawn Josephson.

[This article is available at no-cost, on a non-exclusive basis. Contact PR/PR at 407-299-6128 for details and requirements.]

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