Journalists Know Nothing!

Published by - 30/04/2015

OK, it’s a bit harsh to suggest that journalists are totally ignorant – but there is an important principle at stake here which can affect the success of your PR.

Too many press releases presume that the media they’re targeting will instantly be able to appreciate the story they’re being offered. This shows itself in several ways:

  • Using acronyms, jargon or technical terms without explaining what they mean
  • Too little background information about the organisation issuing the release
  • A lack of context for the story, so that its true significance is lost

Avoiding these mistakes can feel a bit of a challenge when you’re trying to ensure that your release is to the point and not over-long. But unless the journalist can very quickly understand why your story is newsworthy, it could end up in the bin.

In fact, a failure to anticipate and answer every question can create a barrier which the journalist can’t get past. Given the choice between two press releases – one which makes it easy to grasp the full story and one which doesn’t – it’s pretty obvious which is more likely to be used.

So when you’re writing a news release, always try and take a step back. Imagine you’re telling the story for the very first time. Tell it from the beginning and ensure that all the relevant points are included.

One tip is to ask yourself whether a member of your family or a neighbour would get the point straight away. If not, there’s something missing. One way to address this is to get into the habit of including some concise background notes at the bottom of your press releases.

So while it may seem slightly insulting to assume that a journalist has zero knowledge of your issue, you’ll actually be doing them a favour if you do – and you’ll maximise your chances of getting the media coverage you want.