Press releases are an important book publicity tool for authors and publishers. I’m delighted to have publicity expert Marsha Friedman share her terrific press release tips in today’s guest post. Although these tips are geared to writing a release to attract talk show hosts, these same principles are applicable to other types of releases.
1. Headline! Headline? HEADLINE!!!
Arguably the most important aspect of your press release, headlines are so vital that there are entire books written and seminars taught on how to construct the most effective ones. Now, don’t let this scare you. Writing a killer headline is definitely a skill that can be developed; all you need is a clear and concise overview of your topic. Write down your show idea and look it over. Now look it over again.
What is your key message? Is your show idea newsworthy? Are there any well-known people that you can tie into your topic? Do you have any impressive statistics that are relevant? Is there anything controversial that ties directly into your subject? The answers to these questions will help you develop a headline which is ready for increased attention by producers and hosts.
Your headline must communicate the topic of the show instantly in an eye-catching way. It should not be longer than 1 sentence and will act as THE sound bite on your topic. Now that’s a lot of weight to put on a single sentence!
Sometimes to alleviate the weight of the headline, you may need a sub-head to support it. If your headline gives just a taste of your show topic, then a sub-head is useful to explain it further. When someone reads the headline and sub-head together it should immediately click what the concept of the show is. Do this correctly and you will definitely grab some attention!
2. Discussion Topic
This is your chance to present a concise summary of your show topic. It should continue naturally from the headline to further expand the topic. The headline gets the attention and the discussion topic gives the reader more.
The length should be two or three sentences, tops. This forces you to present (and think about) your topic in a concise manner. Again try to tie your topic to current events, big name, big money, or controversy! Don’t be worried about repeating yourself in the different sections of the press release. After all, you want to get a cohesive point across! (A great tip: try writing the Topic Summary and Headline together. It is a great way to save time!)
3. Talking Points/Questions
These are an absolute must for radio and TV as they are the shaping tools that guide the host through your topic. Often times the host will read directly off of the press release during the interview. This not only makes them look knowledgeable, but it saves them heaps of time! So why not have them read YOUR questions so you can give very specific answers which will not only make you look knowledgeable but also make for a great interview.
Yet again you will need to tie in current events and any controversy that will stir interest (are you tired of hearing this yet?). Generally it is good to give no more than 10 of these conversation shapers. If you do get invited as a guest, your interviews will generally last anywhere from 5 to 30 minutes…so concise is a word that you should familiarize yourself with right now!
Remember: the more interesting the questions – the more interesting your interview!
4. Topic Overview
Once you have gained their attention with your eye-catching headline, topic summary and talking points it is time to present the full show idea. This is your opportunity to fully flesh out your topic to position you as an expert on the topic you are discussing. Do not write a sales piece here – write your show! Work your name, personal quotes and product name into the summary.
Liberally use the following to build your topic and profile: statistics, testimonials, current news facts, professional title (which is real and honest). Use anything that will interest the producer, host and in effect THEIR AUDIENCE! Try to limit this to a page maximum, with an ideal range to be 4-6 paragraphs with around 4 sentences max in each one.
Now this is the one element that people tend to forget, underplay or overplay. THIS IS ABOUT YOU! This is your chance to position yourself as the expert you are in order for you to be invited as a guest. Use your qualifications, education, career, relationships, memberships, travel history, how many dogs you have….etc. Basically use anything that can help qualify you as an expert on the topic. If you are writing about religion, for example, anything that you do in your life that pertains to religion is applicable and increases your plausibility as an expert on that topic.
A word of warning though: don’t sensationalize yourself. By doing this you will immediately turn-off producers and hosts. Instead, effectively communicate your achievements and expertise on the topic that you are presenting. Simply rehashing your resume with bullet-points is an absolute “no-no”.
The press release is your marketing tool to get invited as a guest on radio and television shows. If you take your time developing exactly what your interview segment will be about and put lots of thought into developing your press release to clearly reflect that you will be more successful in getting the media attention you desire. So get writing!
For 20 years Marsha Friedman has been a Public Relations expert as CEO of EMSI. Signup at www.emsincorporated.com for her free PR Insider Newsletter today! Or call 727-443-7115, ext. 202, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.