A news release is to all intents and purposes a missile. It must hit its target, and its impact must be immediate.
But there is a problem – the target is moving. It may be a journalist anxious to complete an article, a newsdesk constantly distracted by changing events, or a producer fighting to prepare his programme for transmission. All these people are potential targets, but they are also almost certainly distracted and may regard the arrival of a news release as an unwelcome interruption.
The secret therefore is to be brief, punchy and utterly clear. In other words, think tabloid, not broadsheet.
However serious or worthy you believe your story to be, it will always benefit from a tabloid approach. The headline has to grab attention and the body of the text must contain no unnecessary detail. Get to the point, emphasise its significance and repeat the point if necessary.
You can also attract attention by helping the recipient, whether the release is directed at a newsroom, an individual journalist or a programme editor. Above all, help them by making the story clear, but also offer them contacts, an example, a case study. In other words, do some of the journalists’ work for them. They are under pressure, they will appreciate your help and are likely to look more favourably on your story.
You have only one chance with that moving target. The more direct your aim, the better your chance of hitting it.