Landing media exposure for our brands is difficult at the best of times. With that said, in this blog we’ll be looking at 1) how to write a press release 2) how to give your press release the best chance of getting noticed 3) how to discover whether your press release has been picked up.

The very first step towards securing news coverage is being objective about whether our news is actually newsworthy. Charity Comms offer some good pointers to consider when thinking about how newsworthy your story is.


1. How to write a press release

Consider 5W1H

We’re all aware of the 5 w’s and their importance, but sometimes this basic is forgotten. Don’t forget to consider the following questions and ensure to implement them in our press release.

Who: Who’s affected by the news and who does it benefit?

What: What happened?

When: When is it happening/ when did it happen?

Where: Where is this happening?

How: How did this come about?

Why: Why should someone care?


They say first impressions count, this is also very relevant to PR. The title of our press release is super important. If our title lacks clarity and “oomph”, journalists won’t even bother opening our email. Keep press release titles simple and easy to understand. This is not a time to create mystery or suspense.

Introduction sentences

Once we’ve decided on our clear and catchy press release title, we now need to summarise our story in a couple of lines as an intro sentence. This is where we’ll bring in the 5W’s and 1H. This may be the most challenging section of the press release, as we have to include everything in a couple of lines. Try to keep this under twenty words.

Something that might help us crafting this short and sweet content is explaining the story to someone in 15 seconds. We can then put this into written words.

The body

Now it’s time to discuss the 5Ws in more detail. Our first paragraph needs to set the scene and provide context for readers. We’ve already summarised the story in our title and intro sentences. Now we need to provide more details, such as statistics and quotes. The quote could be our company’s CEO, a director, the researcher who discovered the finding or the product developer. Either way, we want the quote to be from an expert on the topic.

Contact Details

Don’t forget contact details, so journalists can contact for further information.

Consider using videos or images

Including a photo or video can increase views of a press release by over 45%

Include links

The key is to make readers lives as easy as possible, include links to any additional information, data etc.

2. How to give your press release the best chance of getting noticed

Now it’s time to send our press release on. In 2017 we spoke to Clare Bebb, Senior Media Officer at Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine. We’ve added some of her advice throughout the article.

Follow the below tips to improve press release distribution ROI. 

Where possible personalise your pitch

Whilst this may not always be viable, we should aim to create relevant, personalised pitches to journalists. At the very least, address them by their first name in the email. Personalisation can also include tweaking the press release messaging based on the recipient’s area of expertise. For example, we may go into more depth about technological advancements when sending the release to trade journalists compared to journalists who write more generically about tech.

Don’t attach your press release as a PDF

Journalists receive dozens of emails a day, and chances are they only skim read them. If a journalist has to click into an attachment they probably won’t bother if the story hasn’t grabbed them. Put your press release in plain text, within the body of the email.

Find journalists who are probably interested in your story

Following on from the above, we can use Meltwater’s influencer contact database to discover people who are likely to be interested in our press release. How? Simply search for a keyword or phrase related to our story. For example search ‘Media intelligence’. The tool will then showcase all journalists who have recently discussed that keyword, in this case, “media intelligence”. The tool can also rank those who have discussed the topic the most and feature them at the top of the search page.

We can also search for journalists in more traditional ways, such as filtering by country, language, reach percentile and source type.

Targeting those already discussing our topics makes more sense than blindly targeting journalists.

“I use Meltwater’s Influencer Contact Database to find journalists who regularly discuss the field of research I’m promoting, and then send them very targeted and personalised pitches,” says Clare Bebb. Fortunately, Meltwater’s influencer database looks beyond traditional topic beats. Instead, users have the option of searching for influencers based on the articles they have previously written. This helps the quality of targeting as we know that they have covered a similar theme, and so they’re likely to be interested in what we have to say.

“I can now find journalists who are likely to be interested in the research that I’m in the process of promoting. For example, I can search for journalists who are discussing particular antibiotics within their articles and create lists of contacts for each particular field. I then create a bespoke pitch for each journalist.” says Bebb, Senior Media Officer at LSTM.


Once we’ve sent out our press release, it’s time to look into whether it has been successful.

Analyse engagement

When sending a press release through Meltwater, clients are able to analyse engagement metrics such as open rate, click to open rate and number of unsubscribes.This allows us to analyse our efforts- if lot’s of people didn’t open it, maybe the title isn’t grabbing their interest. We can use this data to understand how our press release was received and then improve future releases. With the addition of these analytics, we provide insights into the quality of your content based on the influencers’ level of engagement with your pitch.

If we notice particular journalists have spent a while reading, we can always send a follow-up.

3) How to discover whether your press release has been picked up

press release

There are a few things we need to look into after sending out our press release. Firstly, we should use a media intelligence tool to find mentions of our brand off the back of the press release.  We can create dashboards displaying easily digestible insights showing us how the news is being received, who are discussing it on social media and online news, where it’s being discussed, trending themes and more.

“I use Meltwater’s media monitoring tool to track the coverage of the research and spot potential international audiences using the heat map widget (which indicates where media exposure is highest),” Clare says. “The insights provided by Meltwater are displayed in a very simple and visual dashboard that we customise with different widgets to drill down deeper into the data in order to spot hidden opportunities through insights” she adds.

We can then use Meltwater’s free Impact tool (Test it out here), to show us how many times a specific press release has been picked up online.

Combining these two tools gives us a full social footprint of our release.  

So, to summarise:

  1. Follow the 5W1H
  2. Keep it punchy and easy understand
  3. Find journalists who write about your specific field
  4. Summarise everything that needs to be said in the title and first line
  5. Analyse, analyse, analyse

This blog was originally published 17.11.17 and updated 26.03.18 with new, relevant information.