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I recently got together with some of my television news friends from the good ole’ days. Over the last 10 years, we’ve all gone our separate ways. Some stayed in the television industry, while others went into public relations and marketing. Either way, we all still have a strong connection.

One of my friends, who is still in news business told me something that stuck with me all weekend. She said that in all of the newsrooms that she’s worked, she has seen some really bad press releases. Let’s see if we can change that.

A press release is essential when you are trying to get press coverage. But, if you don’t do it right, it may end up in the trash. Here’s some tips on writing the perfect press release.

Headlines Mean Everything
You have 5 seconds to get the assignment editor or reporters attention. The headline can make or break your story. You need to write a compelling headline that makes them want to read more. Give them a reason to care. Be creative and compelling, but do not lie. I have seen some press releases that stretch the truth and that will come back to bite you.

Get to the Point
Again, time is money. Keep it short and clean. Don’t start off your press release with “We are excited to announce…etc.” I can tell you from experience, newsrooms get a ton of these and that does not separate your press release from the pack. Think about what you’re trying to convey? What is your pitch? Tell it right away or you will lose them. When writing, make sure you have who, what, when, where and why in there.

Include a quote from the company spokesperson or owner. This provides more value to your press release. In some cases, local papers will cut and paste your release, so it’s really important to have a solid quote in there.

Images and Video
Pictures and video help tell your story. If you have great images and a compelling video, it adds to the value of your pitch. If you are providing video, make sure you embed it. For images, have the appropriate sized screen shots.

Boiler Plate
This goes on the bottom of all of your press releases. Basically it is an “about us” paragraph. Sum up who you and what you do as company. And, don’t forget to include your website.

Make sure you have all of your contact information on there including email, cell phone and office number. If there is anyone else authorized to talk to the press about what you are pitching, make sure to have their information on there as well.

There you have it. Write a killer headline, get right to the point and include images or video. You can never guarantee that you are going to receive coverage, but if you write a compelling press release, you’re in better shape than so many other companies