Ep 89 – Leanne Shelton: How to write a media release

Aug 16, 2021

Reaching people outside your network via media releases

Do you have an exciting program or event launch you’d love to share with the world?

Or maybe you or someone you know has reached an important milestone or experienced an exciting achievement in their business?

Sure, you can promote it across your socials and e-newsletter.

But if you want people outside your network to hear the news, you need it picked up by a journalist.
And that’s where media releases come in.

I’ve been writing a bunch of these lately, so I thought I’d take this opportunity to explain how to write a media release that makes an impact.

Let’s jump in!


First of all, on a personal note, I hope everyone who is currently in lockdown is doing okay. I’ve gone through my ups and downs – as I’m trying to do my work and homeschool at the same time.

For regular listeners, you might have noticed some slight delays with my podcast releases lately. And that’s all been part of the fun…

But I acknowledge many of you out there have had to put your work on hold for the time being – or shifting the way you do things. I hope that despite everything, you are taking care of yourself. Because that’s the most thing you can do right now.

Take care of your mental, emotional, and physical health.

And accept you can’t do everything like you used to.

Because if you fall apart – that’s not going to do you, your business, or your loved ones any favours.

So be kind to yourself. Accept the current circumstances. And just go with the flow.

Okay, let’s start on the topic for today.

Back in Episode 51, I had the honour – and fangirling moment – of interviewing Bec Derrington from SourceBottle about PR and publicity on a shoestring budget.

If you haven’t already tuned into that episode, I recommend getting onto that one next. It’s a goody!

But anyway – Bec was saying the art of media releases is dead. It’s all about Twitter.

While I agree to an extent, there are times when having a media release – or otherwise known as a press release – is important.

For example, reaching out to your local media (who may not be on Twitter and more focused on community stories) – like magazines and radio. 

In recent months, I’ve been writing a lot of media releases for a PR Agency – and I’ve realised that my past TAFE training in PR as well as my journalistic background, have made the writing process very easy for me. 

But I understand that it’s not easy for everyone. Or people have no idea where to start.

So I’ve prepared 10 tips for writing and sharing a media release.

1. Grab attention with a clever headline

One of the most important skills a copywriter has to possess is the ability to hook their audience in.

Headlines are often the first thing people read, and if they don’t captivate the reader, then there is no point in reading any further. It’s important for copywriters to be able to generate headlines at will, so they can come up with something that captures people’s attention and sparks their interest.

2. Highlight the journalistic angles of your story

A good story will engage the audience and pull them in from the get go.

The following are some tips for writing a media release that will capture your audience’s attention:

– Start with a persuasive headline to grab attention.

– Write a punchy lead paragraph that summarises the story.

– Provide details about who, what, when, where and why of the story.

– Include quotes from experts in your field for credibility as well as quotes from those impacted by the event to add a human element to your story.

3. Include the most critical information upfront

If working with a publication, you never know how much space the journalist has to work with. 

So make sure the vital information is mentioned first – then work your way down to interesting details that wouldn’t affect the story if they got the chop.

4. Keep it short and sweet

No more than 1.5 pages long. One page is actually best. 

Add a heading ‘For more information’ at the bottom of the media release and insert your contact details. If you’ve piqued their interest from your one-pager and made the journalist excited to find out more, they will reach out to you!

5. Write in an active voice

Ooh this can be a tricky one to get right.

I did a little Google search to help me explain this properly.

In a sentence written in the active voice, the subject of the sentence performs the action. In a sentence written in the passive voice the subject receives the action.

For example,

Active: The dog bit the man.

Passive: The man was bitten by the dog.

I still occasionally fall down the passive hole, but I am much better that I was in the past. It can take a bit of practise to get right. You can also use tools like Grammarly and Outwrite to double check what you’ve written.

Or, of course, you can ask a copywriter!

6. Keep it relevant to journalists’ interests

When you’re too close to a subject, it’s easy to fall into the trap of promoting something that’s important to you – but, maybe not the rest of the world!

Think about the journalist – who’s thinking about their audience. Why is this topic important and interesting right now? Why should they explore the story? Will their audience be keen to hear about it? Will it make a difference to their lives?

7. Send along a photo to be featured or say photo opportunities are available

Remember – it’s about making their lives as easy as possible. If you attach a high-res image suitable for printing along with the story – the hard work is done!

If you’re promoting an event that has yet to take place – or if you don’t yet have suitable photos – mentioning the fact that photo opportunities are available makes the journalist aware you’re open to arranging a shoot.

8. Distribute your release across the right channels

Before you flick your media release off to a list of 100 publications, it’s best to do your research first.

Which publications are likely to show an interest in your story? Will their audience be interested in what you have to say?

If you can find out and follow the relevant journalists on Twitter or LinkedIn – in a non-stalkerish way – and build rapport before flicking over the release, you’ll go a lot further.

Remember, they get a LOT of media releases every day. So you need to find ways to make them pay attention. If they feel like they know and trust you, they’re more likely to run your story. 

9. Turn your media release into a one-page marketing kit 

Whether the media picks up the story or not – and there are never promises that they will – you can still feature the media release on your website or in your business proposals. 

It’s likely to represent a key milestone or achievement – which potential, interested customers, might be eager to hear about. 

10. Use social media to extend the reach of your story

Just like the last point, don’t wait for journalists to run with it. You might be waiting a long time…

Upload it to your website and share the link across your socials – along with a cool Canva graphic. You can still announce your story to your immediate world!

There you have it – 10 tips to help you with your media release journey. 
If you need further support, you can either outsource the writing or editing to me and the Write Time Marketing team or book in a one-on-one Power Hour with me to talk it through.
Otherwise, good luck with getting your message out there!


Throughout her career, Leanne Shelton has gained vast experience in journalism, marketing, communications, events, and B2B sales. She has worked in both corporate and not-for-profit roles, but since starting Write Time Marketing in 2014, Leanne has found her true calling.

A self-proclaimed English nerd at heart, Leanne is extremely passionate about the written word and loves working with Health & Wellness business owners to prepare effective content marketing strategies to best suit their target audiences. Even though she has dabbled in all forms of copywriting, Leanne specialises in business blogging as she loves the capacity to form ongoing relationships with her clients.

While some business owners choose to outsource their blogs to Leanne to write, others prefer to take the DIY approach and learn about the art via training opportunities online, face-to-face, and her podcast ‘Marketing & Me’.

Outside the office, Leanne enjoys dancing, reading, listening to inspiring podcasts, and spending quality time with her husband and two young daughters.


Grammarly – https://www.grammarly.com/
Outwrite – https://www.outwrite.com/
Power Hour with Leanne – https://calendly.com/leanneshelton/hour-of-power


Email: leanne@writetimemarketing.com.au
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/writetimemarketing
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/leanneshelton247/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/WriteTimeMkting

Similar podcasts:

Ep 1 – Introducing The Leanne Shelton Podcast

Ep 149 – Carole Issa: How to use DISC profiling in marketing and sales