Pitching

[377] How to write super engaging copy about your business

Ever wondered how some people just seem to nail it on social media or their Facebook ad just speaks to you? Want to know how to write super engaging copy for your website or social media?

In my latest podcast, I speak to copywriter Jo Watson who describes herself as an editor and 'writer of stuff'. She explains how to show your personality in your writing (and why you need to). PLUS why you need to make people really feel something when you write. Even if they disagree with you.

Jo is well-known on LinkedIn for her slightly sweary 'tell it like it is' approach and her personality is well-reflected in her writing. She has a truly distinctive writing voice and explains how to create personality in your writing and how if you produce great content then people won't forget about you (even if you go on holiday for a month).

Jo also explains how you can show your authority - even if you don't feel confident enough to actually post on social media. She doesn't have a social media strategy - and believes very much in showing up and being present, being yourself and writing as if you were talking to a friend at the pub.

Jo also talks about how to go about hiring a copywriter that really is a copywriter (and not just a VA who says they'll 'have a go') and why it's really important to look at the return on investment that it will bring to your business.

I'd love to know what you think. I hope you enjoy the episode.

{Click on the player above to listen to the podcast episode and/or read on for a detailed overview. Scroll down to the bottom to read the show notes including all the links mentioned in this episode}

 

Podcast shownotes

  • About Jo and why she defines herself as a ‘writer of stuff’ (4:06)
  • How Jo went from  being a teacher to a copywriter and built her business (5:05)
  • How Jo develops personality in her writing and why she doesn't think you need a social media strategy (14:15)
  • How Jo got started on LinkedIn and how ‘saying it like it is’ helps build relationships and engagement (16:23)
  • Why you need to be present on social media and only post if you have something to say (19:03)
  • How to stay on people’s radars by posting great content so they won’t forget you (23:15)
  • How to show up and write well and why everyone can tell stories (25:47)
  • How to build your confidence and show your values on social media (26:56)
  • Why you’ll lose trust and authority if you write or say things that are 'off brand' (30:47)
  • How to get more personality into your writing and how everything is a content opportunity (37:01)
  • Why you need to think about what people are interested in and make people feel something when you write (42:50)
  • Why you shouldn’t limit your marketing to one ideal client type (50:03)
  • How to get personality into your writing and why you should keep it simple, relatable and in your own voice (54:54)
  • How to hire a copywriter for your business and why you should look at the return on investment (58:03 )

Resources

Connect with Jo on LinkedIn
Jo's website 

[275] How to write awesome sales copy - fast with Sarah Cooke (podcast)
[335] How to create a high converting lead magnet (podcast)
[348] How to write social media posts that sell (podcast0
[372] How to build an engaged online audience (podcast)
[375] How to get your first 1k email subscribers (podcast)

 

How to create a high-converting lead magnet course

How to write social media posts that sell (online masterclass) 

Join the Media Diary Owners Club 

Preorder your 2020 Media Diary here

Buy my book Your press release is breaking my heart

Build Your Audience Programme

Rev.com*

Kapwing

Social Media Video Engagement Playbook

Social Media Engagement Playbook

LinkedIn Content Strategy Playbook

Connect with me on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and LinkedIn

 

[376] Lessons learned from one million downloads of my podcast

Want to know how I've managed to publish a new podcast episode every week for the past four years? 

How I have managed to stay consistent, to show up every week, in fact, twice a week to start with and put a podcast episode out there?

This podcast answers your questions and more and is based around real questions that you have asked about my podcast. Even if you're not interested in starting your own podcast then please stay with me because what it's really about is showing up and publishing consistent content.

How do you keep showing up every week when maybe you're all out of ideas or you're not feeling well, or you're feeling uninspired or unmotivated, or you've lost a team member suddenly, how do you keep all of that going over a number of years?

This podcast isn't just about creating a podcast it's also about content planning, content creation and solving your audience's problems, it's about mindset. It's about staying consistent and overcoming the challenges and evolving. 

So you'll see it's so much more than how you keep a podcast going. 

I also share my favourite podcasts too. What do you think?  Have you listened to them?

I hope you enjoy the episode as much as I did recording it.

 

{Click on the player above to listen to the podcast episode and/or read on for a detailed overview. Scroll down to the bottom to read the show notes including all the links mentioned in this episode.}

 

Podcast shownotes

  • Why you should listen to this podcast (01:57)
  • How to win in my 'Big Podcast Giveaway' (2:52)
  • Find out about my 2020 ‘Start a podcast programme’ (5:39)
  • What inspired me to start a podcast (and why it’s such a great way to connect with people) (7:02)
  • How I have consistently produced my podcast (and how accountability keeps me on track) (10:30)
  • Equipment I use to record my podcast, how it's produced and why I delegate the editing (13:04)
  • How I record a guest podcast episode (16:40)
  • How getting your podcast on iTunes can be the most challenging part (and how I did it) (17:09)
  • Why I choose podcast guests that can show they are an expert (rather than just a big name) (19:50)
  • How I got people to agree to be a podcast guest when I was starting out (24:58)
  • How my podcast has evolved and why I'm doing more solo podcasts than guest podcasts (27:44)
  • Why it’s important to have a great rapport with a podcast guest (and why some don't go as planned) (32:24)
  • Why I plan my podcasts to strategically fit in with what I am doing in my business (34:44)
  • Steps to produce the podcast from idea through to publication, repurposing and marketing (38:25)
  • How to promote a podcast and why you have to try lots of different ways (45:20)
  • Why a podcast needs to be quality content that solves your audience’s problems (48:47)
  • Top 9 episodes I've recorded? Try these they are full of useful practical advice that’s easy to implement:  133, 161, 227, 288, 275, 315, 341, 351, 362 (50:52)
  • Top 3 episodes that I am really proud of? Episodes with great longevity: 333, 339 and 340 (58:46)
  • What happens if the podcast guest doesn’t work out (1:00:05)

Resources

How to pitch yourself as a podcast guest (blog post)

Find out about my new start a podcast programme in 2020
Win in my Big Podcast Giveaway!

[133] How to grow your following on Twitter (podcast)
[161] How to work with bloggers and influencers with Kat Molesworth (podcast)
[227] How to make sales without being spammy with Jess Lorimer (podcast)
[253] How to land guest appearances on podcasts with Nicole Holland (podcast)
[275] How to write awesome sales copy - fast with Sarah Cooke (podcast)
[288] How to get started with vlogging(and how it can help your business (podcast)
[315] How to create a brand statement and why you need to (podcast)
[333] 39 Surprisingly easy ways to increase your email subscribers (podcast)
[335] How to create a high converting lead magnet (podcast)
[339] How to build an audience for an online course or membership (podcast)
[340] How to create a coaching or consultancy package for your business (podcast)
[341] How to use stories to attract your ideal audience (podcast)
[351] How to get corporate clients and why you should with Dylis Guyan (podcast)
[362] How to grow your Instagram following to 27K - fast (podcast)
[372] How to build an engaged online audience (podcast)
[375] How to get your first 1k email subscribers (podcast)

How to create a high-converting lead magnet course

Join the Media Diary Owners Club 

Preorder your 2020 Media Diary here

Buy my book Your press release is breaking my heart

Build Your Audience Programme

Buy your ticket for Build Your Audience Live

Rev.com*

Kapwing

Social Media Video Engagement Playbook

Social Media Engagement Playbook

LinkedIn Content Strategy Playbook

Connect with me on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and LinkedIn

How to prepare for Soulful PR for Starters

Enrolling in an online course a big investment of your time and money. To get the most out of the experience, preparation is vital.

There is nothing more annoying than starting a course then finding you can’t find the materials or haven’t got enough time to complete the activities

With that in mind, here’s everything you need to know about preparing for Soulful PR for Starters, which opens again in March. 

1.Set up a dedicated email folder for Soulful PR for Starters

Redirect any mail relating to Soulful PR for Starters to the folder, so you can find emails relating to the course easily - including your login details for the members’ area (these will be emailed to you when the course starts officially).

Whitelist my email address (i.e. add it to a safe list of emails) to ensure they don’t end up in spam. The method for doing this will vary according to your email provider, but if you Google ‘how to whitelist an address with [INSERT NAME OF EMAIL PROVIDER]’ you can easily find instructions.

2.Bookmark the learning area (and this post)

Bookmark this post so you can revisit it when you have any questions. We’ll be updating it with more info over the next few weeks.

On the first day of the course you’ll receive your log-in details for the learning area (where the learning materials will be stored). Bookmark this URL when it arrives.

3.Introduce yourself in the members’ area

There is a private Facebook Group for Soulful PR for Starters students. This is the place to pose questions (both to myself and other members) and have conversations.  Do go ahead and introduce yourself to the other students.

4.Join Twitter (if you haven’t already)

Twitter is the social media network where most journalists hang out - and we’ll be making the most of it during the course. So if you’re not already active on Twitter, set up an account and start using it.

If you’re a complete newbie, this article on how to get started with Twitter is a useful guide.

If you want to get more experience of using Twitter, do join my #soulfulprhour Twitter chat on Sunday evenings 8-9pm (BST). If you a complete newbie, read my guide on how to take part in a Twitter chat.

You might also want to follow our Soulful PR for Starters Twitter list.

5.Study the course schedule (and get key dates in your diary)

Spend some time familiarising yourself with the course schedule, including when you’ll receive the learning materials. Soulful PR for Starters is an eight-week course that includes six classes (video lessons of around 30-45 mins long plus related activities). You’ll also get five bonus sessions, which will be published at regular intervals during the course.

Here is an outline of the programme:

Session 1: Setting your intentions

Session 2: Connecting with journalists who are already looking for help with stories

Session 3: Developing story ideas for journalists

Live call 1. Date and time tbc. N.B. NO NEW SESSIONS WILL BE PUBLISHED THIS WEEK

Session 4: Pitching to journalists (including press release writing)

Session 5: Dealing with journalists (including finding their contact details)

Session 6: Maximising your press coverage (how to make each story go further)

Live call 2. Date and time tbc. 

Bonus material will be published at regular intervals during the course.

Bonus modules:

  • Traditional PR for social media managers and marketers (available September 11)
  • Newsjacking (using topical news stories to get media coverage)
  • Dealing with negative comments/criticism
  • 3 x video interviews with editors from Marie Claire, Grazia magazine and the Huffington Post - in which they share their tips on how to get featured in their publications
  • Influencer marketing (an introduction)

6.Do some background reading

If you’re new to PR, it can be a good idea to do some background reading before you start the course. My book, Your Press Release is Breaking My Heart, is a great starting point but is absolutely not compulsory.

As a minimum, I would recommend reading these blog posts:

How to tell your story in the media (without being boring)

How to write emails journalists will actually read

How to connect with journalists on social media (without feeling like a crazy stalker)

If you're new to PR my book is a great starting point but is absolutely not compulsory

7.Consider blogging about your experience

Taking an online course can be overwhelming. There is so much information coming at you, it can be easy to miss things. Reflecting on your experience and setting goals can be a great way to document your progress as copywriter Tarzan Kay does in this review of Marie Forleo’s B-SchoolYou may also be able to turn it into useful content for your own audience.

I’d recommend writing a ‘before’ and ‘after’ blog post. Stating publicly on your blog that you are taking an online course also gives you accountability (telling your audience you’re learning how to get traditional PR coverage means you have to follow through, right?).

8.Block out time for follow up

It’s easy to finish an online course full of brilliant ideas. Sadly, it’s just as easy to get bogged down the minute the course is over, forget everything you’ve learned and not follow up on what you’ve learned. Make sure this doesn’t happen to you by blocking out a few hours (ideally in the week or so after the course finishes) to reflect on what you’ve learned and make a plan to put it into action.

If you haven't yet enrolled in Soulful PR for Starters, you can do so here

 

10 common concerns about enrolling for Soulful PR for Starters

Investing in an online course is a big decision. Not only is there the cost of the training to consider, you’ll also need to set aside time for learning, which might mean taking time away from your business.

It’s natural to worry about whether you’re making the right decision in signing up for an online course (and the consequences of making the wrong choice).

With that in mind, here are some of the most common concerns prospective students raise about joining my Soulful PR for Starters course

If you’re not familiar with Soulful PR for Starters, it’s an eight-week online programme that covers everything you need to know to get high-profile coverage in newspapers, magazines and on radio & TV - for example: understanding what journalists are looking for in a story, writing pitches and press releases, finding journalists’ contact details, helping journalists find you online and a whole lot more.

The course is suitable for small business owners who want to do their own PR. It is also suitable for those who want to offer traditional PR as a service to their clients e.g. social media managers, marketing professionals and PRs.

Concern 1: ‘I’m not ready for PR’

Some prospective students tell me they love the idea of the course - and are keen to get national press coverage for their business - but want to wait until they’re ready to launch a new product or programme.

My advice

It’s never too early to start building your media profile - particularly when you consider lead times on national publications and programmes. Monthly magazines can work up to 3-6 months ahead, weeklies 4-6 weeks ahead, while some TV/radio shows are made up to a year ahead. Wait to learn about PR and you may miss the boat on cracking your ideal publications or programmes. That aside, just because you’re not ready to launch a new product or programme - doesn’t mean you can’t be featured in the press right now (in fact, if you’re running your own business, you absolutely should be). And building relationships with national media contacts now will make it far easier to get PR around your launch.

Concern 2: ‘I’d rather wait until I can afford to hire a PR company to do it for me’

Some prospective students tell me they’d rather put off getting press coverage until they can afford to hire a PR company - usually because they feel they don’t have time to do their own PR (see concern 3).

My advice

Hiring a PR firm could cost you upwards of £300 a day (and much more in many cases). So you’ll need a budget of at least £7.2k a year for just a couple of days support a month. Do you really want to wait until you have that kind of budget to get press coverage for your business?

With the right strategies in place, doing your own PR doesn’t have to be time-consuming. And when you do have the budget to outsource, if you know how to pitch a story, find journalists’ contact details or what to include in a pitch or press release, you’ll be much better placed to make the right hire.

Concern 3: ‘I don’t have time’

Some prospective students tell me they don’t have time to do their own PR. That they are too busy running their business to contact journalists, write email pitches or press releases.

My advice

Getting press coverage can help attract visitors to your website, build credibility and raise your profile both with prospective customers and in your industry - all of which generates leads and sales. So if you can’t make time for activities that generate new customers/clients, you may need to rethink your priorities. You might be busy right now, but if you’re not generating a constant stream of leads and sales, things might look different in a few months’ time.

With the right strategies in place, doing your own PR doesn’t have to be time-consuming. For example, a short email is often easier (and much more effective) than a press release

Concern 4: ‘I’m not a very good writer’

If you don’t have much experience of the media, you may be under the impression that the only way to be featured in newspapers and magazines is by writing the content yourself. Some prospective students tell me they are worried their writing isn’t good enough for PR.

My advice

There are plenty of ways to get featured in newspapers and magazines - without writing the content yourself. In fact, if you contact a journalist with an idea, they’ll generally either interview you over the phone or get you to answer some questions via email.

So if you want to get featured in the press, the only thing you need to be able to write is an email to a journalist. That’s it. You don’t even have to write press releases (unless you really want to).

That said, there are opportunities for you to write for the media e.g. opinion articles or practical ‘how to’ articles that can be great for business. If writing’s not your thing, you can always outsource that part to a copywriter.

Concern 5: ‘I don’t have anything interesting to offer journalists’

Some prospective students tell me they can see how national media coverage could help their business - they just don’t have anything interesting to offer journalists.

My advice

In 16 years of journalism, I’ve yet to come across a business owner who doesn’t have an interesting story to tell or an expert point of view that is helpful to journalists. Doing an online course will help you understand what you have to offer that journalists might be interested in. You’ll also learn about what journalists are looking for in a story (and what they’re not) so you can identify the publications and programmes you should be targeting and the best way to ‘pitch’ your ideas.

Concern 6: ‘I’ll be inundated with orders I won’t be able to fulfil’

A common concern I hear from owners of product-based businesses is that if they get featured in the national press they’ll be inundated with orders they can’t fulfil i.e. they don’t have the stock.

My advice

As much as I’d like to tell you that a single piece of national coverage will make you millions...this is very unlikely to happen. If you have some experience of marketing, you’ll know it takes, on average, around seven or eight touchpoints before a prospective customer buys. PR is just one of those touch points. So the more times a prospective customer sees/hears a mention of of your business or product, the more likely they are to buy. Yes there are always exceptions. But if you happen to be in the minority of businesses that does manage to make a ton of sales off one piece of press coverage, that’s a good problem to have, right? You’re resourceful enough to find a solution.

Concern 7: ‘I sell products rather than offer a service.’

Some prospective students tell me they don’t think the course is right for them because they run a product-based business.

My advice

If you’re looking to get national press coverage for your business this course is relevant for you. The learning materials include strategies and resources specifically aimed at product-based businesses, including examples and case studies. 

In our group coaching calls and private Facebook group I will be able to guide you on the best ways to get media attention for your business - whether you sell products, services (or something else entirely).

Concern 8: ‘I’m not ready to be the face of my business’

Some prospective students tell me they want press coverage of their product or service - but they don’t want to be featured in the media themselves.

My advice

Here’s some tough love: journalists are far more interested in people than products. So unless you’re prepared to step out from behind your logo, your media opportunities will be limited to the odd review and/or product round-up. Investing in a PR course - created by a journalist with 16 years’ experience in the industry (that’s me!) - will open your eyes to other ways you might be able to get your business featured in the press and should help allay your fears about being in the limelight.

Journalists need people like you to help them create content for the publication or programme they work for, so if you’re not taking advantage of this, you’re definitely missing a trick. Learning about how they work and the daily pressures they face will help you feel more comfortable about being featured in the media.

Concern 9: ‘I’m worried about looking stupid’

Some prospective students tell me they don’t think the course is right for them because they don’t know much about PR.

My advice

If you don’t know much about PR this is exactly why you should be learning about it. Soulful PR for Starters students are typically small business owners (of both product and service-based business), social media managers and marketing professionals with one thing in common: little or no experience of PR.

Concern 10: ‘Traditional PR doesn’t work’

Some prospective students tell me they had an article in a newspaper in a magazine - or appeared on radio or TV - but 'nothing happened'. 

My advice

Would you expect your business to blow up after posting a couple of tweets or Facebook updates? Of course not. It's exactly the same with press coverage.

It takes, on average, around seven or eight touchpoints before a prospective customer buys. PR is just one of those touch points. So while you do hear about the odd bit of press coverage that goes viral, for most people it’s more of a slow burn. And like everything else in your business, you need to keep at it. The more times a prospective customer sees/hears about you or your business, the more likely they are to engage with you. So the more press coverage you can gain over a number of months or years, the bigger the impact on your business.

You may have noticed I haven’t included ‘I don’t have the budget’ in this list. That’s because, over ten years of running training courses, I’ve yet to meet anyone who can’t think of ways to fund training they really want/need.

Interested? You can find out more and sign up here.

13 Reasons to sign up for Soulful PR Starters

If you’d like to get featured in newspapers, magazines and on radio & TV, but don’t have the budget to hire a PR firm, there’s no reason why you can’t DIY. But if you don’t have much experience of the media, it can be difficult to know where to start.

Investing in online training can be the quickest way to get up to speed. But enrolling in an online course is a big decision. Not only is there the cost of the course to consider, you also need to think about the time taken away from your business.

With that in mind, here’s 13 reasons to enrol in Soulful PR for Starters.

1. You’ll get a tried and tested course that definitely gets results

Check out this video of Sally Bunkham talking about her experience with the Soulful PR for Starters course...

 

2. You’ll get everything you need in one place (in the right order)

There’s tons of free content online (including on my own blog and podcast) but searching for it - and identifying reliable sources - takes time. Invest in a course like Soulful PR for Starters and you’ll get everything you need in one place, with all the steps you need to take, in exactly the right order. And it’s yours to keep forever.

3. You can learn at your own pace

Enrol for Soulful PR for Starters and you’ll be sent a weekly video lesson and tasks to complete (over an eight week period which includes a reading week in the middle). This means your coursework can be completed when it’s convenient and fitted around your work and life. While you’ll get more out of the course if you work through the materials as they are released (not least because you’ll be able to discuss them with me and the other students in our dedicated Facebook group), if you fall behind, you can simply catch up when it’s convenient. You’ll get lifetime access to the course materials - and all the live content e.g. Q & A calls will be recorded - so there’s no rush.

The learning materials for Soulful PR for Starters are yours to keep, so you can work through them at your own pace and refer back to them at any time

4. You’ll learn what journalists are interested in (from someone who actually knows)

There are plenty of people out there who claim to be PR experts - some of whom have never actually spent time working in a newspaper or magazine office or on a TV/radio show. I’ve spent the last 16 years writing for national newspapers and magazines - and trained hundreds of people to appear on radio/TV - so I know what journalists are looking for and, crucially, what they’re not. So I’ll teach you strategies that actually get you results, so you don’t waste time writing press releases or sending emails to journalists about things they won’t be interested in.

5. You’ll get insider tips on how to find journalists’ contact details - quick

Confused about the difference between a reporter and an editor? A TV producer and a researcher? You’ll learn about the different roles and responsibilities on magazines, newspaper, radio or TV - so you can find exactly the right person to get your ideas in front of - quick. I’ll also share my best hacks on finding journalists’ email addresses and phone numbers - quick.

6. You’ll learn the best way to set out a pitch or press release for a journalist

Not sure how to set out a press release or what to include in an email to a journalist? You’ll learn exactly what information they need from you (and what you can leave out). And you'll get cheat sheets and templates to help you write them fast. 

I’ll also share insider tips on how to increase the chances of getting your email opened, including how to write engaging headlines and email subject headers. You’ll also learn about the best days and times to send your pitches and press releases. 

You'll get cheat sheets and templates to help you write pitches and press releases - fast

7. You’ll find out what to do if a journalist ignores your pitch or press release

You’ll learn exactly how many pitches and press releases journalists get each day and what it might mean if yours gets ignored (and what to do about it). You’ll also learn whether you should chase them up, how long you should leave it before you do and the best ways to go about it (i.e. phone/email).

8. You’ll learn how to help journalists find you (so you don’t don’t have to do all the work)

You’ll learn how to optimise your social media profiles and make effective use of social media so journalists can find you more easily (and you don’t have to do all the legwork). I’ll also share tons of free tools and apps you can use to connect with journalists who are already looking for help with stories - saving you time and money.

9. You’ll get access to exclusive interviews with high-profile journalists

Join Soulful PR for Starters and you’ll get access to exclusive interviews with editors from Marie Claire, Grazia magazine and the Huffington Post - in which they share their tips on what they’re looking for in a story and the best ways to get their attention.

If you sign up to Soulful PR for Starters you'll get personal support from me - both on our live coaching calls and in our private Facebook group

10. You’ll get personal support from me

I’ve signed up to tons of online courses, where the teacher is ‘all in’ on the marketing...then disappears the minute the course starts.

Enrol for Soulful PR for Starters and you won’t be left to your own devices. I’ll be in the private Facebook group every single day answering your questions. You’ll also get the opportunity to attend two live Q & A calls with me and the other students, where you can ask questions and get personal feedback on your pitches.

11. You’ll get honest feedback

I won’t pull any punches. If your ideas are not newsworthy - or I think you’re spending time on something that won’t get you results - I’ll tell you straight, so you don’t waste time on pointless PR activities.

12. You’ll get to learn all of this and more with like-minded souls

Learning with like-minded people is good for you. Not only will you come away from the course with new skills, you’ll also meet people you may want to collaborate with in the future and make new friends.

13. You’ll get help implementing what you’ve learned

One of the frustrating things about online courses can be the lack of follow-up support. That’s why I’ll be holding a live calls for Soulful PR for Starters students so you can check in with me and ask any questions you have. The Facebook group will also remain open so you can keep in touch with me and your fellow students.

Interested? You can find out more and enrol here.

 

How to write an effective press release for your small business

If you’re looking to get media coverage for your small business, knowing how to write a press release is an essential skill. But what should you include in your press release? How long should it be? And who should you send it to? Here’s everything you need to know to get started…

What is a press release?

A press release is a document that gives journalists the information they need  to decide whether or not they want to cover a story.

For local or industry titles, a well-written press release that includes compelling quotes can be published, almost without change. On a national publication, the journalist will almost always want to do their own research and interviews.

When should you send a press release?

I like to think of a press release as a written announcement. This might be about a new product/service you’re launching, an event you’re running or a significant change in your business, like a merger or buyout.  So you should only send a press release if you have something new and/or newsworthy to share.

A good way to tell if something is newsworthy is to think about the things that interest you. What have you read, watched and listened to over the last week or so and why did those those stories grab your attention?

It's important to be realistic. While you might be excited about your new handwash fragrance or online yoga course, would any really care (apart from your nearest and dearest?).

It's also worth considering that what might be 'news' to one publication/programme might be different to another. For example, your local newspaper may be keen to cover your nomination for a local business award, but this is unlikely to be of interest to a national.

That's why it's vital to read, watch or listen to the publications or programmes you’d like coverage in to get a feel for the kind of stories they typically cover.

What should you include in a press release?

Most journalists get hundreds of press releases each week - many of which don't even get opened. So it’s a good idea to label the subject header of your email with the phrase ‘press release’ or ‘story idea.’

A great subject line is also a must - but don’t try to be mysterious or clever. If your story is about the first 'men only' nail bar in your town, you might be tempted to write something like 'Local business owner nails it' - but this will mean nothing to a busy journalist. If you're opening the first 'men only' nail bar in your town....that's exactly what your subject line should say. You can also use your email subject line as the headline of your press release.

The first line of your press release should be a summary of the story (ideally no more than 15-20 words) and read like the opening line of a news article.

Journalists are generally taught to get as many of the 5ws (who, what, where, when and why) in the opening line of a story - so if you want examples of great first lines for press releases - look no further than your daily newspaper.

Quotes from people in your company can be helpful for journalists (and on a regional or trade publications are often used, word for word). I'd recommend including at least two quotes in a press release.

A common beginner’s mistake is to use quotes to provide information e.g. ‘Last year, we exported 1m tonnes of olives to 10 European countries.’ But quotes should be used to provide insight and opinion and sound like a real person said them. And they definitely shouldn’t be full of jargon or technical language.

This Slideshare presentation shows you how to write a press release, step-by-step (with examples), including how to write a great headline, opening sentence and quotations.

How to write a press release for your small business from Janet Murray

How long should a press release be?

A single side of A4 is a good length for a press release. Sub-headings and bullet points can be useful to make information easy to digest, particularly if you’re including figures or statistics.

How and where should a press release be sent?

Press releases should generally be sent by email, but avoid sending them to generic addresses e.g. [email protected] as these often don’t get checked regularly.

Make it your mission to find out the name and email address of the person who will be able to make a decision about whether or not to run your story. Here is some more information on how to find journalists' contact details.

Should a press release be sent as an attachment?

Paste your press release into the body of an email (a busy journalist may not bother to an open an attachment).It’s also a good idea to include a short summary of your idea (no more than a paragraph) and where you think it might fit in the publication or programme you’re pitching to. Here is some more information on how to write an email pitch for a journalist. 

And should you send photos with a press release? 

Yes - if they’re relevant to the story. But don’t send big files as these can clog up peoples’ inboxes.

What happens if you don't get a response to your press release?

You probably won't hear back from a journalist unless they're interested in your story - not even to get a 'thanks but no thanks.'

That said, in a busy newsroom, things can get missed. So there’s no harm in putting in a follow up phone call to chase. But if you’ve followed up a few times and not had a response, it’s probably safe to assume they’re not interested.

Take another a look at your idea to see if anything can be improved and offer it elsewhere. And don’t be disheartened if it takes you a few gos before you’re successful. It’s not easy to get journalists’ attention - particularly on the nationals - and it can take years to build up the know-how and contacts to get regular coverage. But if you’re persistent, consistent and willing to learn from your mistakes (and you will make them), you will get there.

Want to learn more? Sign up for my FREE press release writing course here.