How to write a press release

A press release is the most basic and most important tool for communicating with the media. Why? Simply because journalists and editors have become used to them and know how to deal with them or, in the majority of cases, how to delete them from their inbox.

 

So, how do you write a press release?

A good press release encapsulates a story to gain media attention – a bit like a good mailshot in the recruitment sector. As with a mailshot it needs to be targeted, be relevant and communicate quickly and clearly. Here’s an example of one we did for a client which ended up getting both domestic and international coverage over the course of a whole year:

 

Workplace diversity a “glorified PR stunt” according to UK accountants

Despite the proliferation of formal initiatives and policies to promote diversity in the workplace, only a minority of Britain’s accountants are convinced that they are anything more than what one described as a “glorified PR stunt.”

According to a survey carried out for the financial recruitment specialist, xxx, only 35% of those questioned thought that formal diversity programmes were having a real effect on the companies they worked for.

“We’ve got a programme, which is supposed to ensure that we’re recruiting people from all different types of backgrounds and ethnic groups,” says one ACA, working for a major investment bank, “yet practically everyone at senior level is still white, middle class and male. Where’s the diversity in that?” A female part-qualified CIMA in another bank had a similar jaundiced view. “There’s supposed to be a level playing field here, but the only women who really get on are those who are willing to forego a family and commit completely to the bank,” she says. “There are a few at senior level with children but if they ever get to see them it must be a minor miracle.”

When asked why employers set up diversity programmes, 54% believed that it was to generate good PR and 73% thought that it was because they feared prosecution under discrimination laws. Only 29% believed that companies had a genuine commitment to creating a diverse workforce at all levels.

However, despite their apparent cynicism about progress towards it, the majority (85%) of the 170 accountants questioned thought it was a highly desirable aim.

“There’s obviously a degree of cynicism about how committed large companies are to diversity because power in these institutions often still resides in the hands of a markedly un-diverse group,” says xxx. “However anyone who thinks that they are not committed to changing this in the medium to long-term is kidding themselves. Organisations of this size and scope aren’t doing this for any fluffy, altruistic reasons. They know that there is a compelling business case for mirroring an increasingly varied customer-base. And they also know that if they want to recruit and retain the best people in the market they need to be fishing from the widest possible pool of talent.”

 

OK, so why did it work so well?

  •  It’s about a subject that is already widely discussed in the press so we already knew there was an appetite for this sort of material and that it was likely to keep up for some time if not indefinitely.
  • It’s controversial – it doesn’t just tell you want you know already.
  • It’s based on the views of a group rather than just one person or organisation so has extra ‘credibility’.
  • Its headline grabs immediate attention.
  • Each paragraph has something to say – always work on the basis that if a sentence or paragraph doesn’t tell you something or develop the story then strike it out.
  • It has ‘human interest’ – you can read quotes from the real people behind the research telling you what they think.
  • It’s short and to the point, but contains enough material for a journalist to build an article around it.

 

Vickie Collinge

Author: Vickie Collinge

 

 

Originally posted April 2012

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