How to Write and Distribute Your Press Release in Washington DC

Posted by Robin Newton on June 20, 2014 at 8:49 AM

Writing Press ReleasesIs your Washington area business ready to communicate to the masses?  Well with more than 5 million people living and working in the Washington Metropolitan area that could be a real challenge.  However, with the right tools for writing press releases and access to the perfect Washington DC media contact list, communicating to the masses could be a breeze.

So how do you get people to listen?  How do you engage newspaper writers, radio reporters, tv producers, bloggers and more?

First you need to send your information to the right people.  For that, you need a list of Washington DC media contacts. 

Now you need to make sure the contacts on that media list give your information the attention it deserves!  Getting media contacts in Washington to pay attention to your press release is an obstacle that can easily be overcome when you “Think Like the Press”.

In my role as the Public Relations & Marketing Specialist for WTOP News I often receive press releases and distribute press releases, therefore I have the advantage of being on both sides of the exchange.   However, regardless of whether I’m sending or receiving, I “Think Like the Press”. 

So how do you “Think Like the Press” when interacting with Washington DC media contacts?  Always remember the eight traditional news values that almost all journalist follow when deciding what to report.  Knowing what is considered newsworthy could help get your Washington press release noticed.  In fact, if you follow these guidelines your press release could be so well written that a journalist could quote your writing word-for-word.

Eight News Values For PR Writing

1.) Impact – The quantity of people affected by the story is always important.  For example, layoffs at a local bakery in DuPont Circle may have less impact than layoffs at a Fortune 500 Company in Arlington, VA. 

2.) Timeliness – If the news is old then don’t waste your time. For many news outlets, anything more than 24-hours old is outdated. 

3.) Prominence – Celebrities, Politicians and other recognizable people will always gain more attention than those not in the public eye.  If the story has a celebrity link don’t be afraid to name-drop in your press release.

4.) Proximity – Location, Location, Location! For Washingtonians, events that take place in Washington will always resonate more than those that take place in other cities.  The closer a story hits to a reporter’s beat the more likely he/she is to pick it up.  Even if the story took place outside of the Washington region look for other ways to tie in Washington and show the media why they should care.  

5.) Bizarreness – Rare news is always great news.  Which headline is catchier?  “Local Man Breaks World Record for Growing the Longest Beard” Or “Local Woman Breaks World Record for Growing the Longest Beard.”

6.) Conflict – War is always news in the literal and physical sense.  Whether it’s a Hollywood writers’ strike, physical altercation between Jay Z and his sister-in-law or the War in Afghanistan, it’s all news involving conflict.

7.) Currency – A basic explanation for this news value is “popularity”.  Some topics make it to the spotlight and others don’t.  The greater the public interest, the more legs the story grows.  Popularity also increases the stories shelf-life.  Find stories with great legs, and piggyback off its success.  Big events such as the Super Bowl, Academy Awards and Presidential Elections are prime examples of currency.

8.) Human Interest – Of all the news values, this is the least traditional.  However, people will always be interested in the stories of other people.  Especially when they tug at the heart.  These stories provide an emotional connection that makes you laugh, cry and say awww.  In addition, human interest stories have a great viral appeal.   

Additional Press Release Distribution Tips

Have an interesting angle.  Always think of unique ways to present what seems like a basic story.

Don’t waste time. We are all pressed for time.  Lead with a bang by making your headline standout and tell a story in itself.

Always be professional. Press releases should always be in the traditional format, AP style writing, and free from spelling and grammar errors.

Personalize when possible.  Don’t just distribute your press release to a group email with all of the contacts “blind-copied”.  If time permits send a few individual emails with a very short personalized introductory note. 

Need a free Washington DC media list and easy to follow press release template?  Download this free guide today:

10 Digital Resources Every Washington D.C. Area Business Needs to Know  

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Tags: Public Relations, Advertising



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