Despite having a reputation as one of marketing’s easier tasks, writing a truly great press release is actually one of its most challenging. The writer has just a few hundred words to convey all of a story’s essential facts in a way that engages the reader. This coaching and training programme helps marketing and publicity teams to do just that.

Is it news?

There are two key reasons why many press releases fail. The first is that the story isn’t newsworthy in the first place. The second is that the story is potentially newsworthy but the writer hasn’t brought what makes the story newsworthy to the front and centre of the press release. We look at how to assess whether a story is newsworthy, how to identify the most important elements of the story and then make these ‘the heart of the story’.

Language style

The press release of yesteryear was dry and factual. Today, press releases should tell compelling stories. They should still be grounded in fact, but because language has evolved, the nature of marketing storytelling has changed and much of the potential audience has changed, the press release should change too. We look at how publicity has changed and how this affects the way in which press releases should and shouldn’t be written. We also cover the essentials of grammar, such as writing in the third person, using short sentences, avoiding superlatives and comparative claims – and more.

News stories that resonate

Although press releases are ‘companies telling stories about themselves’ their success depends on those stories being relevant to others. Otherwise, they risk being self-serving, introspective – and therefore dull. We look at how to shift the focus of a news story, so that your press releases connect far better with your audience, have greater relevance and so tell your stories in a much more engaging way.

Using quotations, research and spokespeople to build credibility

Many press releases fall into the trap of making claims or assertions which aren’t substantiated. Quotations from third parties, input from specialists and spokespeople and statistics from independent research can give your news story the credibility it needs. We look at the best ways in which to do this, as well as what to avoid.

Search engine optimisation

It’s important that news stories can be found online. While search engine optimisation (SEO) can be a daunting topic, the key principles are neither difficult to understand nor hard to adopt. We examine how to optimise your press releases for search engines, including how to research and validate keywords, how Google works and more. We also look at search engine optimisation techniques which are either out-of-date or bad practice, so that common pitfalls can be avoided.

Press release structure and formats

We examine the structure and formatting of press releases, so that they can be provided in the way that the media and other influencers prefer to receive them. This includes the headline, synopsis or introductory paragraph, press release body and more. We also look at the best ways to provide additional information or media, such as photographs and videos.

Managing quality

Press releases are often needed fast and written quickly. We look at how to trap out potential quality issues that come from working in a fast-moving environment. This includes revalidating the newsworthiness and value of the story, checking the accuracy of facts in the press release, reviewing how well the story is presented, checking the story’s search optimisation, ensuring that the press release is written to meet its goals and, of course, proofreading and obtaining permissions.

Building a wider campaign

In today’s social-media savvy, multimedia world, a press release on its own may not be enough to generate the desired impact. We look at how to place the press release at the heart of a more powerful campaign that reaches across a wider range of media and online venues.

Press release topics

We look at around fifty common press release topics – from winning an award to rebranding a business, from commenting on events to market expansion – and consider the most effective ways to write stories around these.

Multiple story pitches

It can sometimes be more effective to create different versions of a news story for different purposes, rather than let one document try to do everything. We look at the case for this, the possible benefits and how to go about it. We specifically look at different versions of a story for the media, other influencers and the public – and how using multiple stories can improve search engine optimisation.

How this programme works

This programme is delivered by highly experienced marketing and publicity professionals, who are able to teach these topics in the context of a customer’s own business, using real examples rather than just solving theoretical problems. It can also form the basis for a consultancy session, where teaching leads into planning a publicity strategy for the customer.