Public Relations Writing: What’s the Difference?

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Press releases, media alerts, and pitches, oh my! There are so many different types of writing in public relations, it’s hard to keep track if you’re not a pro. If you don’t write the right thing, it could cost you the coverage you wanted — or worse, your relationship with the media.

You need to know exactly what you’re writing when it comes to public relations. Here is a breakdown of each component of PR writing and their differences:

Press Releases. Also called a news release, the press release is the most basic piece of public relations writing. Press releases are news stories written by an organization and sent to the media. They help reporters by forming the basis of many stories they publish. In press releases, you need to write stories covering all the facts and nothing else. They have a very specific format and the content has to be newsworthy. If you make one little mistake, your press releases will be thrown out.

Features. A feature story is probably the most writing you will do for one piece. It is longer than a press release, and uses a more creative means to discuss your company or product. For example, a feature story might focus on a problem facing a wide number of people, such as hiring remote workers. You can use this angle to provide (subtle) background about your own product.

Media Alerts. A media alert or media advisory is a notice sent to journalists, informing them of a newsworthy event. It is essentially an invitation to your event, describing the who, what, when, where, and why. When you host an event, be sure to cover all these important details in the media alert. Include story angles, interview possibilities, and potential photo opportunities to entice reporters.

Fact Sheets. A fact sheet is one page providing background about an event, product, service, or your company itself. It is written as an outline and accompanies a press release or media alert. They are written to give journalists easy access to basic facts when writing their stories.

Pitches. This is when you reach out to journalists to get them to cover your story idea. You can pitch a story via email, phone, or any other method that’s convenient for the journalist. Your goal is to convince reporters that your product is newsworthy and they should write about it. When writing a pitch, be very concise. Write just enough to make the reporters interested, but do not write as much as would go into a press release.

There are a lot of small details that go into public relations writing. Make sure you follow the proper formats and guidelines for each type, or risk alienating journalists. If you put time and effort into writing these pieces, you will have much more success with the media.

What are some other key differences to remember in public relations writing?

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