Impact: The press is always searching for ways in which the actions of a public body or company intersect with the lives of its readers/viewers. Thus a story on rising tuition or misuse of taxpayer money generates interest, while a professional honor for a teacher is essentially inside baseball and a hopeless media sell. You need to show how the actions of your company or school potentially affect the outside world in a positive way.
New or innovation: The press always seeks to present new ideas or concepts. Think of the “Hey Martha” effect, where someone would call a friend over to check out a new development or item.
Trends. The press likes to synthesize trends, either bad or good. Obviously, you want to be part of a good trend, such as broad cost saving or curricular or product innovation.
Human narrative: Publications and TV love to portray extreme heroism, perseverance, dishonesty, etc. If you can tell a vivid and compelling narrative story about someone involved in your school, program or company, the organization will benefit by being associated with that fascinating person.
Visual and audio pop: Remember the TV is a visual medium and radio is an audio/issue medium. Your chances of exposure, both good and bad, increase on these channels if vivid pictures or good interview sound bites are part of your approach.
If your press release doesn’t include at least one of these elements, it will be very hard to generate media interest.
Don’t be afraid to tell this to anyone who wants you to write a release and make them think through these variables.