The press release is one of the main communication tools for press offices. Basically, the content produced seeks to attract the attention of journalists to conquer a space in the media.
In governmental communication, subjects can be public policies, services, presentation of projects or explanations of actions that might change the routine of citizens. When writing a press release for public administrations, therefore, it is essential to first ask yourself:
1. What is the main information in this text?
The answer needs to support the title and be in the first paragraph. The lead is the basis of a journalistic text and should also be in the press release. Some writers try to attract attention using the “delayed lead”. This technique works on special texts, but is not usually successful in press releases.
The press release is part of the communication plan and needs to be clear, didactic and direct.
2. How will the information impact people?
The state influences the lives of citizens. It can be a law, a tax or the value of the transport fare. The announcement of a complex social programme or a simple change in traffic. Whatever it is, the press release is part of the communication plan and needs to be clear, didactic and direct. It is necessary to write thinking about the perspective of the reader or citizen, and how that information can change their routine. If the news is negative, the ruse of hiding or softening information usually doesn’t work. Transparency is vital.
3. What is the reality of the media?
With the crisis of the last decades, many companies laid off or reduced staff. This situation allowed the expansion of the use of texts produced by press offices. In this case, the closer your text is to a journalistic article, the more likely it is to be used. If TV and radio news is stronger in your country, it will be necessary to synthesise as much information as possible, remembering that time is literally money.
4. What is the relationship with social media?
Your press release could turn into a post on social media. Many blogs or independent journalists use press releases without changing them. Direct text with concise information reduces potential damage.
5. Who is the spokesperson?
The spokesperson is important to give credibility to the text and indicate to the media who could be the source in an interview. It is essential that this person is well prepared to face the media. Typically, in the text, the spokesperson appears after the lead, explaining the main information.
6. Are size and formatting important?
If you write a press release with thousands of words, will the media use it? Will the editor have the patience to read this text, no matter how well written it was? Or even on the institutional website, is such a large text useful? No. So size matters. The more direct, focused and explanatory, the better. If the text is for your institutional site, SEO techniques need to be applied, as your press release can be found anywhere in the world by Google. Infographics help to clarify the citizen and reinforce the content produced.