Creating a media release is a lot like packing luggage for a vacation. If you do it in an organized way, it’s not frustrating when you open it up at your destination.

On the other hand, it’s messy and unorganized if you simply cram everything into a suitcase. You get frustrated trying to find what you need. Stuff gets lost.

The most common mistake in media/social releases is made in the opening paragraph. Example: The Williamsville Waffle Makers’ Association is hosting a strawberry social and waffle fundraiser in support of literacy this Saturday at 2 p.m. at the Williamsville Community Recreation Centre and the public is invited. This reads like a poster stapled to a telephone pole. BORING. It’s not a media/social release.

When you create a media or social release, you need to make sure you have the 5 Ws. But try to avoid cramming the 5 Ws into the opening paragraph. Don’t treat your releases like a haphazard luggage-packing exercise.

Many organizations and businesses continue to treat their releases like luggage. Everything gets jammed in, in no particular order. Imagine if you get frustrated at the sight of your releases. You’ll be lucky if your audience gets beyond the opening paragraph too.

This opening paragraph needs to be reserved for your strongest hook to get attention and make your readers want to read on.

How do you decide what to use as your hook? Three simple approaches:

  • Answer the question: What is this really about?
  • Think like a reporter: If a journalist was to write a front page story, how would he/she start the story to grab readers’ attention?
  • Before you begin to write a release, create the headline first! (This is a great way of forcing us to concentrate on what is most interesting.) Once you have the headline, you can expand on the headline’s theme and write your release’s opening paragraph.