The 7 key elements of a good press release
A well-crafted press release can mean the difference between getting coverage or being ignored. Check out these 7 key elements of a good press release.
The Coffey Team
A press release can help you share the good news about your healthcare organization's hard work in the community. A key hire, a health initiative, a new study or the opening of a treatment center could have you dreaming of the newspaper headlines, reporter calls and a reputation boost a well-crafted press release can bring.
But before you get started writing, remember your audience.
Press releases are designed to pique the interest of journalists, who might have very different needs than your average blog reader.
Give journalists what they want
Here are seven of the top things reporters will look for when they're evaluating your press release.
1. "For Immediate Release." Do you want your news to go public ASAP? Then put "For Immediate Release" near the top of your document. If you have a reason to hold the news for release on a particular date, put that date at the top of your document instead.
2. Accessible contact(s) for more information. Make sure any contacts you include are well-informed, available and willing to field phone calls from members of the press. Also, the more specific your directions for reaching a contact, the better.
- OK directions: For more information, call our switchboard. Our operator will direct you.
- Optimal directions: Our Communications Director is available Monday through Friday, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., at 555.555.5555.
3. A compelling, concise headline or subject line. A journalist's inbox can be cluttered with press releases, so it's important to craft a subject line that will stand out. Think of this text as an invitation. Obsess over every word. Include statistics or bold statements that will inspire curiosity.
- OK subject line: We're excited about a new machine for our cancer center.
- Optimal subject line: Anytown Hospital's mammography machine cuts exam times in half.
4. Facts and figures. Move from abstract to specific with reliable, verifiable statistics. If you reference numbers or stats that don't come from your organization directly, make sure they are from a trusted source.
- OK stats: Our patient-satisfaction rating is higher than it's ever been before.
- Optimal stats: Our patient-satisfaction rate is 96 percent this year. That's a 75 percent increase over last year.
5. Ample white space. Press releases run the gamut from 300 to 800 words or more, but brevity is best. Remember: You're trying to entice a reporter to contact you for an interview. Don't feel the need to write an entire feature-length article. Focus on creating a solid intro paragraph front-loaded with info, and cut extraneous horn-tooting.
- OK intro: We're so proud of this year's performance that we'd like to take you through all of our initiatives, step by step. We know you'll be just as impressed with our work as we are.
- Optimal intro: We've released this year's performance metrics on our website. Three key successes include …
6. Background information. If you refer readers to your website for more information, include a link. But make sure it's a "nofollow" link so that you don't violate Google's Webmaster Guidelines.
7. Straightforward, informative writing. Provide the who, what, when, where and why—and skip the jargon. By offering the facts and skipping the fluff, you'll boost your credibility. And that could make your next press release even more powerful. What reporter doesn't love a reliable source?
- OK writing: Our chief of cardiology won an award recently.
- Optimal writing: Our Chief of Cardiology, Robert Smith, MD, accepted the Cardiologist of the Year award from the local chamber of commerce on June 1. The award is in recognition of his 25 years of service, as well as his 15 journal entries in the American Journal of Cardiology.
Do your news blasts fail to excite and engage?
If you need help composing compelling content about your hospital or healthcare organization, our skilled team of writers and copyeditors would love to assist you. Just call 888.805.9101 or email us to discuss your needs.