Media, Public relations

How to cook up a gourmet news release

Hayley Burwell writes…

Last year the Australian Centre for Independent Journalism and Crikey found that nearly 55% of news stories analysed were driven by some form of public relations. This neatly illustrates how journalists are under such pressure to generate instant copy in today’s 24/7 world that an interesting press release is worth its weight in gold. But what makes a good press release? Well, I find that if you channel your inner Nigella or Jamie and approach it as you would a dinner party then you can’t go far wrong….

Hear how to plan the perfect dinner party

First, you have to decide what your main dish will be. News will always be news and everyone likes an old favourite but if it’s going to stand out as a centrepiece it needs a twist. So instead of ‘Fireman saves cat’ how about ‘Fireman saves cat…lost at sea’? And of course the ingredients must always be fresh and simple, you can’t use a reaction three months later to a piece of news that used to be top story but now can’t even be found on Google and certainly not incorporate waffle that uses a ten sentence quote to say absolutely nothing at all!

Planning and preparation are key to both a good meal and a good press release, so take your time. You may need to stir it a little to get it in order, mix in a few choice phrases or quotes, just a dash of panache and don’t swamp it with sweet nothings. Why not ask someone else to try it before you put it in the oven, you may have missed some vital seasoning or their reaction may not be quite what you were looking for.

Next, work out how long it needs to cook and how far in advance to start so your media coverage is ready just when you want it to be. Breakfast is when journalists are most hungry, so that’s when it should be served, but how many hours or days do they need to digest it and prepare their review? Are you looking for an instant gut reaction or a more intense weekend feature?  Fast food can be great when you’re hungry and there’s nothing else to eat, but generally slow-cooked has a lot more flavour.

Third, decide very, very carefully who you’re going to invite to join this party. You don’t want to be known as the boring or insensitive host, so make sure what you are serving will suit the tastes and preferences of your guests. You wouldn’t serve a roast to a vegan so why send a sports press release to a fashion critic? And if you decide that after all your slaving away in the kitchen there’s really only one or two people that you have in mind, then don’t even bother with a mass email invitation – simply pick up the phone, make them feel special and give them a personal call.

Lastly, never serve the same meal to the same guests more than once. The impact of your story will be diluted and guests will get so fidgety they’ll cross over to your neighbour’s party to see what’s happening there instead. And if a journalist has declined your invitation once, it’ll be more difficult to get them to RSVP the next time, even if you do present them with a sparkling new menu.

– Hayley Burwell

Hughes PR is a communications and public relations consultancy with proven and extensive experience in publicity and media relations, issues management, crisis management, digital media and social media strategy and implementation, community consultation, event management, media training, publications and strategic problem solving. Find out more.

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