How to write a great press release…and get media coverage

Before you start writing your press release check it has news value and is a real story. If not, then the media just won’t run it.

If you’re not sure then a good PR professional can tell you if your story warrants a press release or is more something you would share on social media, on your website or in a newsletter.

There are key things that a journalist looks for in a story – does it have a good human interest angle? Is it about an innovation, an interesting partnership or can you prove that your news will have an impact on people? Is it an interesting fund-raising event?

Vital statistics

Once you have identified your story, make sure it contains:

  • Who?Who are the key players — your company, anyone else involved with the service/product/event? Who does your news affect and who does it benefit?
  • When?What is the timing of this? Does this link to any national related events/awareness days?
  • What? What is it? What’s new?
  • Why?Why is this important news — what does it provide that is different?
  • Where?You need to make sure if you are targeting regional media that you are in their patch – if you’re not sure call them and ask. They won’t cover something if you’re not. Include a road name and town/city.
  • How?How did this come about?

How to write a press release that’s used by media

I find it easier to write a heading and then the rest of the press release, but some people write the release first and then go back to the heading. Maybe start with a draft heading and you can always go back and change it.

The heading should sum up in one line what the story is about.

Your first paragraph should capture the essence of the story and be a couple of lines. You want to ensure that your press release is used, so you need to grab the reporter’s attention straight away.

Once you have written your first paragraph, the rest follows, with each paragraph providing more information using the who, why, what when etc.

Your press release shouldn’t run onto more than two pages. If you need to include more information you can include a Note to Editors section at the end – but include this in the two sides. Reporters don’t have time to read pages of text.

Try and include a comment from the key person involved, including their job title. Read similar publications to the ones you are targeting and write it in a similar style. You want to make it easy for the journalist to use your story.

Remember that stories are cut from the bottom up so ensure the most important points are at the top or higher up in the release.

Always include your contact details in case the reporter wants more information.

How best to send your press release

Generally, it’s best by email and I put the heading of the press release into the subject line to grab the reporter’s attention.

A good idea is to paste the press release into the main body of the email – that way the reporter can scan it and if the organisation blocks attachments, it can still be delivered.

Why good images are vital for PR coverage

Good photos will give your story a far greater chance of being used so ask a professional photographer or a friend to take a selection of photos – some landscape and some portrait  so reporters have a choice of two shapes.

Compress high-resolution images so they still reproduce well in newspapers and magazines – websites and online publications can accept much lower resolution files.

The image should convey your story in photographic form. Try and go for something a bit creative if you can. Send images as a link via Google Drive or WeTransfer.

Always include a caption for your story – explaining who the photo shows – left to right.

Follow through

I have a high success rate on all the press releases I send out – partly because I always contact journalists after I have emailed them the press release.

Be friendly but never pushy. Journalists are busy people and you want to try and build a good relationship – also you may want to send them further news.

I always check a release has reached the right person – never assume it has! When I call to check I also explain the bones of the story and often this generates some interest and makes the journalist look out for the press release if I re-send it.

Always follow through with a phone call. Sometimes the publication may have a relevant feature coming up and you’ve just called at the right time. At the very least, it helps them to get to know you and what your organisation does.

With rich pickings of news to choose from, personal contact helps to push your story to the top of the pile.

Examples to help

If you’d like some examples to help you write your press release, you can get an idea from my case studies. You can also see some of the resulting coverage from the releases.

I am a fully-qualified, former journalist so I know what will make a good story and how to write and pitch it in the most effective way. This gives me the benefit of knowing exactly what the media are looking for and how best to deal with them.

Contact me for more information about strategic, professional communications and PR support.

How do you measure Public Relations?

If you’re thinking of launching a Public Relations campaign in 2022, but you are worried about delivering proof of your investment, I have some good news.

PR used to be notoriously hard to measure. It was a crude tally of circulation X column inches and wasn’t a comprehensive reflection of the true value of PR.

Fortunately technology has changed all that!

I use software which displays coverage in an electronic portfolio. It provides solid data and independent third party metrics.

This includes details of the number of times the article is likely to be viewed in its lifetime, what influence the publishing website has on search engines (very importantly, its domain authority) and how many backlinks have been created from articles to a website.

Backlinks also help with SEO and in improving your visibility on search engines because your brand has been endorsed by a third-party.

Having your PR and website experts working in tandem is an even better approach and you can delve deeper into analysing the PR shared across your social media channels. Using Google Analytics and other tools, you can see what affect the media coverage has had on website visitors.

There are ever-evolving coverage tools that can measure both tone and mentions of your brand linked to your key messages, compared with your competitors, so the metrics can get as detailed as you need.

And if you also introduce digital PR into your marketing efforts (using a Press Release, media coverage or social media to encourage downloads of your Owned Media including podcasts, blogs and whitepapers), you can see how PR has triggered more views, shares or subscribers.

PR is an amazing and powerful tool which can help you to reach new audiences, drive traffic to your website and create new opportunities and partnerships. So make sure you include it in your marketing arsenal!

Events that shaped me | West Sussex Health PR Blog


I was in my early twenties when I first saw what professionally trying to ‘dodge the bullet’ looked like…

I was attending a meeting of very senior professionals (clients) in London, who following a serious failure in the system, were all in agreement that at the forthcoming public inquiry they would not give any media interviews and would literally stay quiet and disappear out of a side door at the end.

I can still remember not quite believing what I was hearing and willing one person to challenge the decision. You don’t have to be in PR to realise that you have to be accountable for your actions, especially in a position of seniority.

It was left to me, sweaty palms and all, to stand up at one of the largest boardroom tables known to man and explain why they should ditch their plan and instead prepare to do as many interviews as the media asked for.

Avoiding media suicide

After a bit of coughing and shuffling, they reluctantly agreed. I’m still proud of my younger self for that one – it was terrifying at the time, but I knew their plan would be media suicide and more importantly, it was fundamentally wrong not to take responsibility.

They got pretty fair treatment from the media. It was balanced reporting and even though it was critical, they were able to explain their position and comment on the report. They were also able to explain what measures they were introducing to avoid the situation happening again. Without giving a Press Conference they wouldn’t have been able to do that.

It was critically important for anyone affected by the incident, the organisations involved, their community, other stakeholders and tax payers that they were communicating and accessible. It helps to rebuild trust. It shows you appreciate the seriousness of the incident and you care.

Ultimately, we’re all accountable for our actions, or we should be.

The right approach

Not communicating would have been the very worst thing they could have done that day, even though it was difficult to face the media, it was the right thing for them to do.

In the run up the day the inquiry report was published, I made sure they received the right support, help with answering media enquiries, writing statements, arranging interviews for them to take part in, media briefing and training.

I’m pretty easy going but I won’t ever go along with something I feel is the wrong approach just to keep the client happy.  After all no one would thank me if I didn’t take pre-emptive steps to limit any possible negative coverage and to ensure both sides of the situation were reported on.

I learned that about myself three decades ago in a board room in London.

About you

Are you running your own business or important project and also trying to manage the communications?

Do you spend evenings and weekends trying to do your own promotion and need to reclaim your life?

Whether you need someone to run your Communications function, deal with media calls, rewrite part of your website or write tailored social media, I can help!

This is client Hugo Spowers, taking part in an interview after media picked up on the Press Release I wrote and issued.

About me

I offer:

✅   Professional, proactive and reactive PR and communications support?

✅   Help to raise your profile and content perfectly tailored to your audience?

✅   Valuable media coverage worth 2.5X advertising space?

✅   Increased credibility in your sector?

✅   A higher online profile through effective website, social media and media?

✅   LinkedIn Content to attract your ideal clients

Why me?

I love my job and when we work together I become an invested partner in the success of your organisation.

Since setting up my boutique agency in 2015, I have worked with several leading public and private sector organisations, managing highly-successful campaigns in the healthcare, social care, recruitment, education and sustainable technology sectors.

Drawing on my experience as a PR and Communications Manager and former journalist, I work with companies and organisations of all sizes, fulfilling their communication needs.

I have helped website traffic increase by 250%, gained national newspaper, magazine and television coverage and supported three successful crowdfunding campaigns with PR, raising over £2 million. I have provided Press Office cover, dealt with countless media enquiries, written publications and helped successfully manage negative online comments.

I provide a tailored service to just a handful of clients at a time, ensuring you have the benefit of my many years’ experience in the industry.

See a selection of our media  coverage here:

Mail Online and Mail on Sunday pieces

iNews Article

The Sun

Primary Health Care

Nursing Times Patient Blog

Nursing Times Article

Are you in?

Book in for 15 minutes of my time to ask me anything you want about your PR, communication and marketing

Still unsure?

Read some of my testimonials:

“Gaining features in relevant and well-regarded publications helps to build trust in our business and therefore encourage new customers to try our products. This was OjO’s first ever PR campaign and Cathy was an extremely reliable and invested partner in our success. Ultimately, we successfully funded our crowdfunding campaign and we believe that getting PR coverage early on in the campaign was a key driver of the success of the campaign.”

Freja Smith, Learn with OjO Marketing Manager

“When we wanted to publicise the launch of our new company, Cathy was my first choice as she’d previously been my global PR manager, was extremely capable and good to work with. Thanks to her experience and skills, we gained some fantastic national coverage within our target industry and were offered a valuable speaking opportunity at a prestigious event.”

Tim Richards, CEO, Future Resume

“Working with Cathy on various communication projects within West Sussex County Council was an absolute pleasure. Her knowledge, professionalism and skills allowed us to create positive key messages and quality items for publication and printed resources. I would recommend her to anyone needing a consummate professional to deliver both strategic and operational projects, effectively communicating with different stakeholder groups throughout.”

Sarah Dimmock, West Sussex County Council

“We engaged Cathy recently to provide extra support to our company whilst staff were on holiday. She was previously employed by us for a couple of years, so we knew we could be assured of a high standard of work complemented by a pleasant, efficient demeanour; she is a pleasure to work with.”

Stephanie Lee, Jonathan Street Public Relations, London

I’ve been working with Cathy for nearly 1.5 years, after she was recommended to me.  She writes and manages all our social media, advising on the best channels and specifically focuses on LinkedIn and writing our Blogs. She is experienced and knowledgeable, especially about using LinkedIn as a marketing tool, which is a big plus.  She also advises how to best use our marketing budget and which activities to focus on. She regularly steps in with an expert perspective on specific projects, such as content for adverts and helping us to overhaul the website – rewriting key pages and advising on the best design. She’s kept up to date with the latest marketing tools, which is good news for her clients. She’s proactive, professional and provides an excellent communications and PR service.  “

Dermot Kennedy, partner, Giltinan & Kennedy LLP

“Cathy helped us to reach new audiences and build SEO backlinks around our Kickstarter campaign. On top of this, she provided invaluable expertise for how to choose the right images and messaging, and emphasised the importance of having research and evidence to back the PR story and help increase our chances of success.”

Freja Smith, Learn with OjO Marketing Manager

“Since starting work with Catherine Kelly PR our media presence has jumped about 10 fold. Cathy is able to advise on how to go about securing the best coverage and has used a variety of channels, resulting in both print and radio coverage. She also set up and established our social media presence which has grown in a short space of time – giving us valuable extra exposure.”

Ian Inglis, Bluebird Care

“I worked with Catherine Kelly PR and was exceptionally impressed. I had attempted to use a couple of other PR services, but the results were disappointing.  During our first three months,  she secured a number of PR opportunities, including several newspaper articles, radio interview, monthly column and a large magazine feature.  Not only this, but she is knowledgeable about social media, blogging and speaking engagements.  She listened carefully at our first meeting and assessed my needs – and then drew up a tailored plan to meet them.  Our budget is fixed, with the opportunity for flexibility where required, so I have peace of mind.  I would not hesitate to recommend Catherine Kelly PR.  She is a delightful person with whom to work and a total professional.”

Miranda Banks, Director, Smartivate and Excel in Exams

“I know the wellbeing team are really pleased with the coverage they are getting and it’s great to see the Health Champions name in the press so much. People can see the good work that is going on.  You have made such a difference to raising the profile.  I only wish we had you on board sooner!”

Karen Dennison, Director, Health Champions Training

“I have found Catherine Kelly’s PR service invaluable. Catherine quickly understood my business requirements; produced a plan to meet them including an agreed price and delivered a high quality product, to budget and within the agreed timeframe. Throughout the process Catherine was great to work with; and I would definitely recommend her work to others looking for a professional, high quality, PR service.”

Nikki Gibbins, Director, Achieving Together

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Events that shaped me | West Sussex Health PR Blog