Your target audience consists of one person

When you’re writing a news release, your target audience consists of only one person. Can you guess who it is? It’s the news editor who is going to receive your release.

The news editor has the ultimate decision on whether or not your release is going to get published or aired. So your news release should be in the style news editors are used to reading: i.e. like a news story, not a news release.

This means not including your company’s boiler plate in the lead sentence. This means not burying the main point of your release in the fifth paragraph. This means coming up with a lead that grabs attention, getting to the point quickly, avoiding industry jargon, keeping your sentence and paragraph lengths short, and not using any more words than necessary.

If your news can be communicated in one page, don’t waste the editor’s time by sending out a two- or three-page news release. You better believe their reporters don’t turn in verbose copy. You shouldn’t either.

If you can’t pass the “So what?” test that the news editor will apply to your news release, then rewrite it. If your news release does not resemble the type of news story the editor airs or publishes on a regular basis, then rewrite it.

If your news release is going to require heavy and substantive changes by a news editor, chances are the editor won’t want to take the time. Trust me, their email inbox and mail box receives hundreds – if not thousands – of news releases from other organizations every day. Editors simply don’t have the patience or time to pour through your release to find the news buried within it, and then edit the text so they can run a story.

Your goal should be to make it easy as possible for the news editor to take your story and place it in their publication with few edits, if any. If you can do that, your hit rate will skyrocket.

It seems to me that many public relations professions write their news releases to please their supervisors or clients. Those people don’t have any say whatsoever in your news release ever seeing the light of day. So don’t style your writing to suit them.

Keep focused on who’s going to decide if your release is newsworthy. That’s the news editor and no one else. Then write your news release accordingly.

If your supervisor or client complains that your finished product does not resemble the typical news release, show him or her the publication that you’re trying to place the story. Explain to them that you are trying to resemble the publication’s writing style in order to increase your chances of placement success. How can they disagree with that logic?

Hopefully by adopting this strategy, you will see your hit rate increase and eventually you will have free rein to write as you see fit. And news editors around the globe will thank you for that!

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