A MEDIA release is a bid for attention.
And since we are all busy people, it is necessary for media releases to be immediately arresting; at the risk of being ignored.
In blunt terms, it comes down to the first few words. Fail to engage at that point and, chances are, you fail to engage, at all.
So, here’s a suggested formula, if you like, with the reasons why, following…
It is: target audience + some sort of verb (should be, are to be, could be, etc) + the story as it applies to the target audience (perhaps an anticipated or actual impact).
For example: Fans of French cinema are to be treated to a rare public appearance by one of the legends of the ‘silver screen’.
Common alternative starts to a media release are often either background information or self-congratulation, neither of which are likely to grab anyone’s attention (and, indeed, could be positively alienating).
Background information such as a date or that a survey has taken place; self-congratulation such as a namecheck (not least a name that barely anyone will know).
Background and namechecks are of course important to a story but they are unlikely to be most important. Their place is further down the story, albeit perhaps as high as paragraph two.
Let me revisit the example opening paragraph, above, where the target audience is fans of French cinema.
By keeping it (deliberately) light on detail means it has a teasing quality (which will hopefully intrigue prospective readers, not push them away).
But it also helps set up the remainder of the release, making it relatively easy to write.
Because all the so-called ‘five W questions’ require to be answered.
Who is this ‘legend’ of French cinema?
What exactly is the story?
Why is this legend making this so-called ‘rare appearance’ (indeed, why are her or his appearances usually ‘rare’)?
Where is this ‘rare appearance’ taking place?
The writing of a media release becomes quick when the opening paragraph tees up the questions that require to be answered.
But it is all about the beginning, for the rest of the release to stand any chance of being read.
It has to be about the target audience; it cannot be about yourself.