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Are your press releases being ignored? Discover the secrets to writing releases that grab attention

Published on By Ben Thornton Harwood

Travel PR has seen a huge amount of evolution and change in recent years, but there's one trusty companion that refuses to fade into obscurity: the good old press release.

It’s going strong. Whether we're shouting out breaking client news or celebrating our own wins, the press release is still relevant, but it is not the ultimate hype-machine it once was.

Gone are the days when everything was heralded with a press release blitz. Today, the personalised touch of pitching is the most effective way to grab journalists' attention. Moreover, in markets like DACH (Germany, Austria, and Switzerland), the press release still reigns supreme. That's why our clients often request more releases than your typical UK agency ordinarily offers. It's all about adapting to the unique needs of each market while staying true to the fundamentals of effective communication.

However, don't write off the press release just yet. When wielded correctly, it still holds its ground, offering a valuable tool in your PR arsenal. But, if you decide to draft one, you've got to ensure it's equipped to weather the storm of today's media landscape.

Julie, our intrepid Account Executive at Lemongrass, recently attended "How to Write a Perfect Travel Press Release." Guided by the seasoned wisdom of Ed Grenby, Freelance Travel Writer & Editor, and Liz Edwards, Assistant Travel Editor at The Times. It was refreshing to be reminded that there are still some timeless golden rules that travel journalists and PR pros swear by when it comes to the humble press release. So, buckle up as we embark on a journey through the dos and don'ts of crafting the perfect press release, gleaned from the Roxhill event and backed by our own industry insights.

What exactly is a Press Release?

For the uninitiated, a press release is a document designed to share newsworthy information with the media and the public.

But crafting an impactful press release is all about tight storytelling – think concise and to the point. You've got to pack the key details into those opening paragraphs without drowning your reader in unnecessary background info.

Before you even start typing away, ask yourself: What's the story here? Is it truly newsworthy? Think of it like the classic who, what, why, where, when, and how structure – these elements are your bread and butter for a reason.

Now, let's talk about context. Sometimes, it's the backdrop that makes the story shine. If your press release is tackling a bigger issue or trend, make sure you're showing both the how and the why. That's why we employ what we call "newsjacking" here at Lemongrass; we stay ahead of the curve by tracking the latest trends on Google search and social media, allowing us to use juicy data trends and seamlessly connect our stories to the pulse of the moment. For example, we recently jumped on the back of Japan coming in at #1 on Conde Nast Traveller’s Best Destinations list and issued a release for our client G Touring detailing all their great Asia tour experiences.

If your story doesn't hit that newsworthiness mark for journalists, it's game over.

And let's not forget the power of a good quote. Whether it's from your owner, DOSM, or Sustainability Manager, make sure it adds that extra splash of colour and insight, and is particularly powerful when targeting trade press. People love reading about people - add the human element. For example, our longstanding client Martinhal recently put forward owner, Chitra, to speak about the importance of local art in their properties.

What should be a press release and what shouldn't?

It's easy to get caught up in thinking everything your travel brand does is headline-worthy. That's where a solid PR agency comes in handy. They bring that impartial perspective, helping you see what's truly newsworthy and what's better left unsaid. A great agency will push back and not be afraid to tell you when something isn't newsworthy.

As a PR agency, we're frequently asked, "What exactly qualifies as newsworthy?" or "When's the right time to send out a press release?" It's a fantastic question, and the answer can vary depending on each client's individual situation or upcoming news. But let's flip the coin and delve into when you shouldn't hit that send button on your press release. There are plenty of instances where it simply isn't the most suitable format for your news.

  1. If it's merely a checkbox exercise, aimed at satisfying stakeholders or board members, pause before hitting send. Just because you're thrilled about your new head chef doesn't automatically translate to a compelling press release.
  2. Before unleashing your news, give it the "pub test." Imagine a group of friends chatting about it over a pint. If the story doesn't spark lively discussion at the local pub, it might not be press release material. For instance, while your new summer menu might be exciting, it is unlikely to pass the pub test.
  3. Timing is everything! PR and media relations demand careful timing. Crafting a top-notch press release requires effort, and understanding the media landscape is crucial. Beware of being overshadowed by major events like a royal wedding or an election. While you can't always predict the news cycle, specialists equipped with media relationships and know-how can navigate it skillfully to maximise your impact.
  4. Let's not forget the triumphs of our multiclient press releases—grouping them by themes has proven to be a winning strategy. A press release doesn't always have to be solely about you and your brand. In fact, being featured in a roundup press release alongside other brands can significantly boost exposure. It's all about maximising opportunities and amplifying impact in the media landscape. Our multi-client press release centred around different UNESCO World Heritage sites gained exposure for several of our clients in one hit, across Forbes, and Euronews before being syndicated across MSN and Yahoo!.

If you determine that a press release isn't the ideal fit for your information, fear not. You've got alternatives. Cultivate strong media relationships to ensure you're top-of-mind for opportunities like inclusion in travel roundups. By diligently nurturing these connections, you won't have to constantly push your sustainability credentials in press releases. Instead, a continually fostered relationship with the right journalist will recognise your brand and its impressive eco-accreditations. So, when they're compiling their next listicle, your name springs to mind effortlessly.

Invest the time in crafting a personalised pitch. Tailoring your pitch shows journalists you're serious. It proves you grasp their outlet's nuances and the individual journalist's interests, offering something truly valuable to their audience.

And of course, nothing quite guarantees coverage like a press trip. Take the time to familiarise yourself with journalists who cover your region, area, or specialise in your area of expertise. Reach out and inquire about their upcoming travel plans, then extend a personalised invitation. Building rapport and offering firsthand experiences can be the golden ticket to securing coverage that truly shines a spotlight on your brand.

Who do you want to target?

When it comes to targeting your press release, precision is key. Utilise media databases and targeted lists based on topics, interests, and expertise to ensure your release reaches the right audience. Consider the diverse range of publications available, from trade publications ideal for profiling to glossy magazines or national newspapers for broader exposure. Don't overlook special interest publications, which cater to highly engaged audiences and can offer a prime platform for niche topics. By tailoring your approach to the specific interests and preferences of each publication's readership, you can maximise the impact of your press release and secure meaningful coverage.

In today's media landscape, your release is up against a tidal wave of emails flooding journalists' inboxes. To stand out, you've got to give yourself the best shot at grabbing their attention. So, take advantage of our findings from Roxhill to learn how to stand out in a crowded inbox with our checklist:

Roxhill Travel Club: PR Checklist

After attending “How to Write a Perfect Travel Press Release” led by Ed Grenby, Freelance Travel Writer & Editor, and Liz Edwards, Assistant Travel Editor at The Times, we have compiled our ultimate press release checklist:

  1. Catch the Eye: Journalists like Ed and Liz look for attention-grabbing subject lines in press releases – the ones that stand out in their inboxes. They actively search for relevant keywords and search terms when writing stories, making targeted outreach essential.
  2. Keep it Brief: Liz sifts through a metaphorical suitcase full of 200 press releases every week, but only 7 get to join her on the adventure. Keep your message concise—think bullet points, not novels.
  3. Include the key detail: prices, dates, and contacts are like passport stamps—they make your release memorable. Don’t make the journalist have to ask for these details, as chances are they will pick another brand that has given them all the information they need in one release.
  4. Add a Personal Touch: Tailor your releases to specific journalists or publications. It's all about relevance! Follow-ups are also essential, journalists are a busy bunch.
  5. Avoid Attachments: Leave the baggage at home—images should be embedded, not attached. Video's a nice addition, but not essential. A link will do the trick, adding depth to your story.
  6. Extend Invitations: Ed's all about those exclusive trip invites. It's not just about the story—it's about building connections. So, extend that golden ticket and watch your relationships take flight!
  7. Relationships: If they recognise a name in their inbox as they have had a personal meeting with the PR or brand, they are more likely to open it and respond. Relationships are everything even in the digital world.

Work with a Travel PR agency committed to change

Lemongrass is a travel PR and marketing agency – and a certified B Corp. Let’s talk about your purpose. Send a message to – or call 01865 237990 to start something big.