There’s many ways to skin a cat, according to the old saying – and it holds true in the assessment of a good media release. For example, is it ‘news’? Are its contents valid and legal? Is it well-written? Is it ‘a good read’? Does it contain strong quotes? Does it have a catchy headline? Is there an appealing picture to go with it? How many column centimetres does it achieve? Most importantly in PR terms: does it convey its message clearly and in a manner that should encourage a desired response from readers?
When PR people wrote press releases (as they used to be known before the internet became such a powerful medium), it was a relatively straightforward matter of producing a good story in ‘newspaper style’, which would either provide a ready-written item for publication, or present sufficient information for the reporter or editor develop the story themselves.
Now that we have to supply internet news services as well as traditional print publications, the term ‘media release’ is more appropriate. And while many of the ‘good’ criteria are still applicable, PR people looking for real results also need to make the copy search engine friendly – using a range of relevant keywords to increase visibility of the release in ‘organic’ search results.
Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is a vast subject in itself, and both this website and this blog depend on various SEO techniques to achieve some prominence on the web. So, too, every new media release has to compete to be seen – and then to capture the reader’s attention long enough to transfer its message.
One of the key functions of PR is to provide target publics with information that enables them to make an informed decision and choose a specific action – anything from making a key purchase to supporting a certain political ideology. This leads to the view that a good media release, quite simply, is one that earns editors’ and readers’ approval – and triggers a desired behavioural or attitudinal change.
Where will your next media release come from?
David Goddin was born in the UK and educated in South Africa. He began his career on daily newspapers and trade journals, before moving into public relations consulting. He produced award-winning writing and became an Accredited PR Practitioner, the highest qualification of the Public Relations Institute of South Africa. Since his return to the UK 16 years ago he has also contributed to a number of highly successful PR and marketing communications campaigns for major national and multinational clients. He is currently also President of the Haslemere & District Chamber of Trade & Commerce.