A media release serves one primary function: to get your story in the media and into the public domain.

Whether you’re seeking to build your profile, influence debate, or want a specific action to be taken, the media release is your vehicle.

This blog will walk you through 7 key elements you need in a media release.

Don’t bury the lead

Don’t bury the key element of the story at the bottom of a press release. ‘Don’t bury the lead’ is a journalistic truism for a reason. Journalists, editors, and producers are busy people with a pile of material to read and they want to understand the story at a glance.

Don’t give them a reason to set a metaphorical match to your media release. State the purpose of the release in the opening paragraph.

Link to something topical

A media release should have what are called ‘news values’. News values include timeliness, impact, proximity, conflict, prominence, relatability, and bizarre factor.

If your story doesn’t have those directly, they probably do in some tangential way. A skilled PR person will be able to help you find an angle in a story if it’s not immediately apparent, and know the best outlet for your story. Leveraging a strong media list and relationships, they are often able to find you a path to publicity.

Quote an expert

A story needs an authority to help validate it. Whether that’s a doctor, an industry expert, or a case-study, or you, a subject matter expert gives your story gravity and authority.

Quote them in the media release and place them at the bottom of the media release as ‘available for comment’. If they are uncomfortable talking to the media, you may need another expert or you could end up halving your opportunities or having someone dive or go off message during a media event or interview.

Clear messaging

Know what messages you want to deliver, but don’t try and get a dozen elements into the story or the public – assuming it gets that far – will be confused as to the point of the piece.

What you think is an important message and what a news outlet considers important may vary wildly. You might think you’ll deliver 5 key messages, only to discover one or none have.

Make it clear in your release and any subsequent follow up what it is you’re calling for.

Remove sludge words

‘Twas a dewy winter eve on the moors and the fog surrounded the village in a shroud. Save your literary chops for that novel you’re grinding out. A journo is a wordsmith and will write their own version.

They also want a clean read. Sludge words – words that aren’t necessary to convey the message or trip people up – are to be avoided in a media release.

Crisp, clean writing is not the enemy of a well written press release though. A skilled PR operator knows how to write something both clean and engaging. George Orwell is a master of this style of writing and had some useful things to say on the topic.

Clear call to action

A media release is really the vehicle for action. You want someone to do something upon reading your story: don’t smoke, do exercise, fund public transport, avoid double bacon burgers for breakfast, visit this website, patronise the arts.

Make sure your messaging all points in that direction and is clear.

Talent available to speak

Don’t forget to include the particulars of who is available to speak at the bottom of the media release: name, title, blurb about individual and their role within an organisation.

These people and the organisations they represent will often not be known to the media so you need to briefly explain why they are an authority in this field and important to talk to.

And now that you understand how to write a media release, the next thing is to pitch it. But that might be a topic for another day.

Tony Nicholls

Tony Nicholls

Founder and Director of Good Talent Media

Tony Nicholls is an accomplished journalist who has held roles for more than ten years with the ABC, SBS and Network Ten, covering thousands of news stories across Victoria, Australia and in the international media.

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