Secrets to writing press releases that get published

Press releases, or so-called ‘below the line advertising’, are a very effective way to promote your artistic activities. After all, people in your local area or industry would want to know what is going on. Remember that while you are writing.

Format

The simple format for a good press release is the same one you would use if you were asked to write an article as a journalist:

  • Who
  • When
  • What
  • Where
  • Why – the most interesting one that would form the central angle of your piece.

Despite current trends for what I call ‘me-me-I-I’ journalism, mainly employed by columnists who are famous or named journalists, a press release wants to be objective, in my opinion, to give it the best chance of being used.

Lively Quotes

If you don your journalist’s trilby, say out loud something you would say about what you are promoting. You could get someone else to interview you. The aim of this is to pick out some words that sound like a person speaking in a way that reveals their character and honest feelings about the event.

Promoters

If you are holding an event in a venue with a known promoter or shop owner, why not get them to give you a quote?

Remember to put details in between commas:

  • Full name
  • Age
  • Place of residence. If this is not local, then add:
  • If they have an historical connection from the area, add this briefly by saying ‘family from’, ‘grew up’, ‘born in’ etc
  • Relevant label for what you do, ‘artist’, ‘songwriter’ etc. Or for someone else, ‘promoter’ etc.

ie Comedian Rachel Formby, 34, who live in London and was raised in Cambourne, says, ‘I never thought it would happen.’

Opening

Your first paragraph wants to sum up, in less than 30 words, what the event is about. To do this you could mention:

  • Who is the event for?
  • The urgency, ie next week, this Sunday, the first gig by…
  • Why the event has come about
  • A colourful picture of something current, talked about, or a recent news event that relates to your show.

These above 4 points are ideally incorporated into a concise summary of who, where, what, when. Why? would be in the second paragraph. Here’s an example:

the West Briton

Visit my Art (Current) page to see more recent examples.

The most important thing is to get write something down and send it in.

Look through your local newspapers to find the email address to send your news too.  Phone up or look for deadlines, so the issue your item appears in gives readers time to arrange to come along.

Think of a triangle with its tip facing downwards: This is the technique used by many newspapers. This means that your piece can be fit into whatever space is available. If you start with an intro that sums up who, when, what and where, then write a para on why. Follow that with your quote. Then provide any more information, what people need to do, buy tickets, turn up, bring a bottle, etc. If you can get readers to take an immediate action, while they are still inspired with your event, that will be a winner!

At the bottom, put a listing in this format:

TITLE OF EVENT

Date, time, entry price. Doors: (8pm-late)

@ Venue, address, your telephone number. Venue telephone number.

If your story strikes a chord with the newspaper, they may phone you up and interview you.

Photography:

  • Make this 300dpi (high resolution)
  • Make sure no business icons, logos, or other product brands are showing.
  • Say what the photograph shows in plain, informative, factual words
  • Choose a picture that tells a story if possible. Ideally this would sum up your event. Try to include yourself, other people and give their names.

Social Media:

When putting your event on Facebook, try to ensure that the date, time, venue, its location or address and entry price appear in what people receive. You could test this with a friend before you send out your bulk of invitations.

If you are interested in promoting events, products or getting people to a venue, I recommend Malcolm Gladwell’s book Tipping Point. The easier you make it for people to turn up, by including nearby railway stations or bus routes, the better.

Tip:

If you are promoting a profitable business event or launching a new company, try to keep this information subtle, and at the end of the piece. Put what the readers would be interested in before any information that you want to get out there. Try to avoid:

  • Saying how great it is.
  • Using adjectives or adverbs
  • Using an impersonal, formal style.

Remember, it doesn’t have to be a piece of poetry, even if you are promoting a poetry event. Include information that the newspaper would like, arts, events, community interest, local characters, and what readers would be drawn to.

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