What makes a good PR story?

Clients who have worked with us for a while are more than aware of what makes a good PR story. We build this into the client-agency relationship from the start to ensure that we are maximising stories with the most media potential. In the past, we recall a company asking us to write a press release about a new page they had added to their website, whilst another asked for an article to be written about a banner they’d had designed for an exhibition. These are “non-stories” and it is better to nip them in the bud, rather than spending any time trying to get them covered – even on a slow news day, it just wouldn’t achieve any media coverage.

Here, our b2b PR team looks at what makes a good story and gives some tips on getting the best results in the media.

A story needs a STRONG news angle

As we’ve said many times in the past, editors receive literally hundreds of press releases into their inbox every day. Your story really needs to stand out to have any chance of being used in the media. The news angle could be a new contract win, a new appointment story, investment in the business, new premises, an overseas partnership, the possibilities are endless. The story must, however, be well written with all key points in the first paragraph. Press releases must be concise and around 350 words, maximum in length. 

If you are unsure whether your story has a strong enough news angle then it’s worth taking a look through the publication and the type of stories they do run, to make sure yours makes the grade! If there is any additional information you feel you should add in there above this word count, include as ‘notes to editors’.

Don’t try and advertise in a press release

Editors will pick up instantly on stories that are puffery or advertising and they’ll be ignored. Make sure that your press release does not read like a brochure i.e. editors don’t want to go through long lists or product features and benefits. The release needs to be informative but not overly commercial. Any details of product names and benefits can be run at the end of the release, or added into editor’s notes, if you feel this is necessary. A good tip is to write the release, check it, check again, leave it a while come back and re-read and ask yourself the questions, does this sound informative and newsworthy, or like advertising?

Make sure it is tailored to the audience

This may sound obvious but it is surprising how often a relevant story gets consigned to the bin, because it doesn’t have the location or related market sector in the first paragraph. For example, local press releases must have the area in which the business is based in its first paragraph, or an editor may not recognise the name so many think it is based out of the area, so discard it. Trade press releases, for example, if you are writing for a publication such as Aluminium International Today, need to mention early on that the company you are writing about is a supplier of aluminium or manufacturer of aluminium products etc, this will tie it back to the publication and increase its chance of being used. Again, take time to read through a publication and you may be able to identify a specific section for which your story may be relevant.

Include a high res (1-2mgb) professionally taken photograph

We always ‘bang on’ about the importance of good photography and where possible, it is worth using the services of a commercial photographer. For local press stories, we often take photographs ourselves as they can be good enough quality. However, if it’s a construction sector case study for a major new development, it would not do the project justice if a photo was taken on a smart phone. It can be really worth investing in a professional photographer – read our blog which explains why.

At Dragonfly PR we work with some excellent manufacturing and construction photographers and can recommend professionals who charge competitive rates.

Be aware of timings

Monthly magazines have press (deadline) weeks when things are extremely busy and the last thing they want is lots of calls about press releases. Be aware of when press week is in the month and avoid phoning at that time. The best time to send to a monthly magazine is the week before press week, that way the news is still seen as ‘fresh’ but it shouldn’t get lost in the mire. Alternatively there is nothing wrong with sending a press release the week after the magazine is issued. Similarly with local press, if it’s a weekly publication it will have ‘deadline day’ the day before publication, so it makes sense to time your press release to hit their desk at least 3 days before publication day – that way you have a higher chance of success. If it lands on the day their magazine or newspaper is issued, they may think it is old news for the next week’s papers, especially when online titles can post news instantly and may have run this a week before the newspaper goes to print. Be selective where you offer a news story to first, if you really want it in the Yorkshire Post, for example, then offer it to them first as an exclusive.

Good media relationships are crucial

As every PR person knows, the success or failure of a well written story can be down to having good media relationships. Our strength here at Dragonfly PR is knowing the editors, particularly in the regional titles, as well as the manufacturing and construction trade. Many of them we have met at factory visits to our client’s premises, at exhibitions where we have invited them to our client’s stands, or at awards dinners when we have our clients shortlisted. This all builds on relationships, as does regular phone calls and the odd editor lunch. We can’t guarantee a story can be covered but if we’ve got the right mix of a strong angle, a well-timed release and one that’s well targeted to the publication, our track record proves we’ve got around 95% chance of success!

For more help and advice on PR stories in the trade press, consumer media or regional press, just give our PR team a call on 0114 349 5345 or email: hello@dragonflypr.co.uk

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