How To Prepare A Media Release To Generate Press Coverage – Case Study

In my previous article I took a look at contacting and communicating with the print media through the creation and distribution of a media release. In this post, I thought I would give an example of a media release so that you can see the format at work, and then show you the results of the campaign.

Just as a reminder, a media release is the document, taking a specific format, that you prepare to share your news with your chosen media outlet.

Media Release Case Study: SMBiT Professionals

Most of my business comes my way by means of referral. In October 2010, I was approached by my friends/associates at Iceberg Events, who were working on an event “roadshow.” SMBiT Professionals (the national industry association for Information Technology service providers to small and medium sized business in Australia) had received a grant from the Australian Government initiative, Enterprise Connect, to roll out a series of free events around Australia with the aim of introducing attendees to the future directions of technology. With a limited database, my publicity brief was to raise awareness in the business communities that were local to the areas of the workshop.

My media releases contained much the same content but were individualised for the particular area to include the location and date of the relevant workshop. I also put out a national media release to the national media that contained all the dates and locations of the six workshops, but did not make reference to a particular location within the body of the media release.

Attributing Information To A Source

Here’s a PDF of the release I used for the Brisbane event, which you can use as an example for crafting your own media release.

You will notice that I sourced some research about virtualisation to add something timely and newsworthy to the release, so that it wouldn’t give the essence of “just another community event.” The media love statistics too. Take notice of the quotes from the spokesperson. It is not so obvious in this particular example, but I normally try to attribute every paragraph to somebody or some research results (if applicable), unless it is entirely factual (such as the fourth paragraph of the release – what virtualisation refers to).

Everything that could be, in the slightest way, viewed as an opinion or observation, needs to be attributed to a source. This is because the media release is purely a statement about some news from a company, and I, as the PR Consultant, am merely the messenger. If you are writing a media release for your own business, you should still attribute statements to a source, such as yourself, so that the journalist can use your content more readily, and also so that there is no confusion about what is fact and what is an opinion, observation or outlook on a particular topic.

This particular release was longer than normal, mainly because of all the different parties involved. Each of the speakers needed to have a bio and logo included, as did Enterprise Connect. I have copied the points from my last article and repeated them below so you can pick them out of the media release example. Make sure you read over my previous article for more help with this – How To Get Coverage In Print Media

Generally, your media release should include:

  • Your business name and logo at the top.
  • Your contact details near the top.
  • The date.
  • A heading that grabs the reader’s attention.
  • The news formatted into individual short paragraphs, with the most interesting information summarised in the first paragraph.
  • Background information about yourself or your business at the conclusion of the media release with its own heading.

The media release needs to answer the following questions where possible, and it’s a good idea to always keep the following in mind when writing it:

  • What – what is it about, what’s happening?
  • When – when is the event taking place or when did it happen?
  • Where – is this national, or local? Where is the location?
  • Who – who are the key people, and indeed the business, involved?
  • How – what are the details?

Case Study Results

I was very pleased with the response from the media. It was picked up by two national newspapers and by the newspaper local to each region, except Brisbane, interestingly. I have included two articles of the national media coverage below. I have not attached the other articles due to copyright purposes. Because I scanned the articles from Business Review Weekly and Australian Financial Review myself, and acknowledge the publication and date, I can use these as I wish. The other articles were collected by my media monitoring service, and provided to me as a PDF. These are for my use only, and I can’t use them in a public capacity, such as on a website or blog.

Media Monitoring

At this point, I would like to interject and talk a little about media monitoring.

As a public relations specialist, I subscribe to a media monitoring service, and what this does is collect all the newspaper articles that contain key words I pre-select. I set up a file for each of my clients, and the coverage I wish it to scan, and then it sends the clips to me as PDFs as they appear. This is a very handy tool to have, simply because journalists usually don’t give any indication that they plan to use your media release and publish a story on you. Sometimes they even do it independently of a media release! So, it’s very difficult to predict if and when a story will appear. Even if you are contacted for a photo and interview, your story may be held back due to a number of reasons, and it may not even be published at all.

From a professional point of view, it’s essential that I subscribe to media monitoring services, but as an individual person or business, you may just have to keep your eyes open across the publications you knew you initially contacted.

Case Study Results Continued…

The results across all the publications were fairly standard, in that parts of the media release was quoted almost word for word – something that, as I mentioned, happens frequently for me due to my journalistic background. The client queried why the website and details of the workshops were not quoted in the national articles. Unfortunately, as discussed in my last post, there are no guarantees with the media. They can take as much or as little as they like from the information you provide. Interested parties will presumably google the event. Sometimes they even phone the journalist for more information.

I was very pleased overall with the media coverage of the events. As you can imagine, media coverage of any event or organisation or product can never guarantee an end result. In other words, you can never predict an outcome (whether people will pick up the phone and call you as a result of a news story), and this is outside of my power of influence. This is why I always build other publicity aspects into my clients’ campaigns, to ensure a well rounded and far reaching effect. I will give examples of some of these in blog posts that follow.

In the next blog post, I will be looking at TV, radio and online news outlets. Until then, I would like to take this opportunity to wish you a wonderful festive season and happy, safe holidays!

Kerry McDuling

About Kerry McDuling

Kerry McDuling is a publicist and Director of her own public relations and publicity consultancy McDuling PR and exposure speciality business, Stratosphere Me – building brands and developing profitable business opportunities for companies, authors, speakers, and entrepreneurs.

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24 Comments

  • You can set a Google Alert for free media monitoring.You will get an email whenever your name or website is mentioned.All my best, Lori

    • @Lori, thats true, and I really on Google Alerts as well, but I think that mainly will just cover the Internet side of things. If I am not mistaken the service that Kerry is talking about will monitor the off line coverage, which is well worth the price for a monitoring service!

      -Jean

    • HI Lori
      Thats a good note, thats for adding it. The only thing is Google Alerts just pick up online mentions, not any other press.
      Take care

  • Wow, pretty complete and well present information about how to prepare a media release to help generate press coverage Kerry. 😀
    For now I’m not up to that stage yet, in coming future, this would really helpful to me.
    Thanks Kerry.

  • Thanks Kerry, very comprehensive yet concise. Great tip about the media monitoring, that can be a very useful thing to do to stay on top of things that could be really important for you.

  • Awesome post. I love the way you throw more insight in the post. It helps a lot. I will save it in order to go through it again. Thanks for sharing. Have fun.

  • Thanks for the pdf files and tip to include statistics in the media release. You are a champ yaro!

  • You have mentioned a well organized format to proceed for attention from the media clients who can give you the access to the business branding if got impressed.

  • Wow Kerry, that’s skill! Really appreciate how detailed you are and looking forward to the next segments.

    Best-
    Natalie

    • Hi Russell

      Thanks for your message. The media release was only sent to national media (Australian Financial Review, The Australian and BRW) and the major regional papers in the areas the workshops were held.
      The Northern Territory News, Toowoomba Chronicle, Sunshine Coast Daily, Daily Mercury, Centrolian Advocate, and Cairns Post all ran a piece. These represented the regional areas where workshops were held. There were no workshops held in Sydney (Daily Telegraph), Adelaide (Adelaide Advertiser), Tasmania (Mercury) or Melbourne (The Age) and as a journalist, you would be aware that it would be pointless targeting these media as there is no newsworthy angle for them.

      Thanks for your tip regarding contacting the right person at the publication. Very good point!

  • Interestingly enough, the reference to “SMBiT” only appears in the Northern Territory News. Using NewsText, I couldn’t find any references for the past 12 months in any other city daily (ie, SMH, The Age, Courier Mail, Daily Telegraph, Herald Sun, The Advertiser, The Mercury). Two swallows does not a summer make.

    As a journalist, I would suggest you write the press release, but make sure you make contact with one appropriate journalist at each publication so you can push the story directly to them. Only then will you see your hard work pay off with a story – or find the right person who is interested.

    (Disclosure: I am a business journalist for a metroplitan daily newspaper).

    • Hi Russell

      Thanks for your message. The media release was only sent to national media (Australian Financial Review, The Australian and BRW) and the major regional papers in the areas the workshops were held.
      The Northern Territory News, Toowoomba Chronicle, Sunshine Coast Daily, Daily Mercury, Centrolian Advocate, and Cairns Post all ran a piece. These represented the regional areas where workshops were held. There were no workshops held in Sydney (Daily Telegraph), Adelaide (Adelaide Advertiser), Tasmania (Mercury) or Melbourne (The Age) and as a journalist, you would be aware that it would be pointless targeting these media as there is no newsworthy angle for them.

      Thanks for your tip regarding contacting the right person at the publication. Very good point!

  • Thanks Kerry, lots of great information to keep in mind, and great to see it from an Australian, which makes it more relevant to me. Never come across this blog before, but count me subscribed.

    • Hi Adrian, great and glad you enjoyed it. What is your business?
      Will look forward to hearing from you again. x

  • I’ve read much about how press releases can help. I guess my big question is, from whom?

    PR Web?

    A combination of a bunch?

    How much money do you spend and how many unique hits do people generally receive in the process?

    Obviously, I know these stats vary, but it would be nice to hear some case studies.

  • @givejonadollar – I presume you are asking who is likely to pay attention to your press release. As a business journalist (and based on some successful pitches from small businesses) I would suggest the following:
    – know in one or two sentences what your story is (eg, we have just launched a product that will save people x per cent of their gas bill)
    – prepare a media release along those lines
    – identify which media outlets are likely to run with it (local newspaper, daily paper small business section, radio, etc)
    – identify the reporter likely to write such a story (small business reporter?)
    – contact them directly – send them an email with the release, then follow up a day or so later with a call and your short pitch
    – if they’re not interested, ask them who might be. Journalists have their own interests but know others.

    It’s not fool proof and requires more energy than a scattergun approach by means you are far more likely to contact the person who is likely to write it. And if they’re not interested, at least you have their contact details for the next pitch!
    – identify which media

  • Very well written. Knowing how to write a media release will help you gaining publicity and become known as an expert in your business field. This is a great way to enhance your reputation and help your business grow!

  • I will refer back to this when I am at a point where I need to do a media release. Thanks for this great information.

    Nick the bet

  • One other piece of advice i would add, is “spend as much time on the headline as you do on the rest of the release”. A good headline will get you coverage other releases cannot reach!

    • Very good point, Echo Advertising. Headlines are my weak point and admittedly something I need to work on!
      Kerry

  • thanks for the info. I have had to put a couple out but had a difficult time doing it and much help was needed. This will really help me in the future.

  • Great case study Kerry. Impressive to get picked up by two national newspapers. Enjoyed reading through the steps you took as well as the tips for success. Thanks for sharing.

    – Robert

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