A press release is one of the most commonly used communication pieces used to get your story out to the public.
As you already know, the best part about press releases is that you and your agency have complete control over telling the story by formulating the most accurate, articulate, and succinct press release possible.
Unfortunately, this is the space where many public safety agencies struggle by knowing and understanding the story but not sharing it with the public in a compelling way to maximize public interest.
A succinct press release that includes an interesting title, a solid introductory paragraph, avoids police jargon, and consists of a media contact is sure to strengthen the chances your press release attracts media attention, drives traffic to your social media channels and website garners public support.
“Considering that journalists are flooded with potential stories and pitches on a daily basis, making your press release stand out from the pack is crucial. While the format for a press release is basic, the content of the release should be anything but.”
To assist you in generating the best press release possible and enhance your writing strategy, here are four tips your agency can begin using today!
How to grab the readers attention
There are two ways you can grab the attention of a member of the media, partner agencies, and the public. The first is to create a compelling headline. Generating a headline/title that is telling of what the story is about while leaving the reader wanting to know more is one of the most important steps of writing a press release; remember, the title does not need to be cut and dry.
Taking the time to brainstorm ideas for a title can greatly benefit you in the end, as a reader is going to read the headline and use that information to determine if they want to read more; including data, action words, and adjectives in the headline can go a long way. Put in the time and effort.
The second strategy public safety agencies can utilize to grab their reader’s attention is to write a solid first paragraph. It’s important to note that the most important information needs to go in the first paragraph. Never leave the most vital points of a press release for the middle or the end. Instead, hit the reader hard with the most interesting and critical points in the first paragraph.
Make it succinct
One of the biggest mistakes law enforcement agencies make is crafting long press releases. Typically, the best length of a press release is one page long; keep it short and sweet. Look at it from the perspective of the reader. Would you want to read a super long press release that halfway through leaves you feeling as if you’re reading unnecessary information?
Remain cohesive when writing the release, and remember that you can always provide additional information to media should you land an interview.
“A press release should give just enough information to pique the reader’s attention and make them want to learn more. Get to the point and stay on point throughout the release. You need to provide all the relevant information a journalist needs to write their story, without wasting time repeating yourself. Including links is a great way to direct journalists and readers to further information. This will increase search page rankings for your website when a reader visits a link you included in your press release.”
Avoid police jargon
Avoiding police jargon and language is one of the strongest tactics to implement into your writing strategy, as it’ll ensure every reader can understand what is being communicated. Another critical point is to eliminate and refrain from using acronyms because most of your readers will not be familiar with the law enforcement terminology.
Again, put yourself in the shoes of an everyday person, let’s say a truck driver, photographer, or reporter; these are the people you want to be sure that easily understand your press release. So make sure to break everything down and tell the story in a way that everyone will understand, not just law enforcement professionals.
Media contacts are key
One area on a press release that is sometimes missing from a public safety press release is a media contact. A media contact should be printed on the top right hand side of every single press release that you issue.
Providing a media contact will incline members of the media to provide coverage of your press release just because a media contact is visible. In 2021 newsrooms have a limited amount of reporters available, which means they’re handling a multitude of pitches and stories, so if you don’t provide them with a contact from your agency, they’re likely not going to put in the extra time to try and find out who they should be speaking to.
Writing press releases can be tricky, but once you get a hold of the recommendations we provided above, we’re confident you’ll get your press released noticed and gain more media coverage and public engagement.
Also, as we mentioned, newsrooms are tight on staffing reporters, so many publications will often run press releases as they are. Be sure to include photos and always compare the media’s published version to the final version of the press release you initially wrote.