How to Write a Press Release
Start a press release with an attention-grabbing headline in bold font. Begin the body copy with the date and city that the release is from. Your lead sentence should be a concise summary of the subject of the release. The rest of the body tells all the important details of your story: who, what, when where why and how. Put the most important information first, followed by more general information, and don't forget to include your contact information at the end.
Making it Pop
Write a genuine headline. It should be brief, clear and to the point: an ultra-compact version of the press release’s key point. Plenty of PR professionals recommend writing your headline at the end, after the rest of the release is written. If you follow that instruction, continue on and come back to writing the headline once the rest is done. The headline is known as the eye-catcher and is very important to the whole release.
News release headlines should have a "grabber" to attract journalists, just as a newspaper headline is meant to grab readers. It may describe the latest achievement of an organization, a recent newsworthy event, a new product or service.
Headlines written in bold! A bold headline also typically uses a larger font size than the body copy. Conventional press release headlines use the present tense and exclude "a" and "the", as well as forms of the verb "to be" in certain contexts.
First word capitalized. As are all proper nouns. Most headline words appear in lower-case letters, although using a stylized "small caps" font style can create a more graphically news-attractive look and feel. Do not capitalize every word.
Extract important keywords. The simplest method to create the press release headline is to extract the most important keywords from your press release. From these keywords, try to frame a logical and attention-getting statement.
If including a summary sentence after the headline, the same rules apply. Using keywords early will give you better visibility in search engines, and it will be simpler for journalists and readers to get the idea of the press release content. Look at the actions in this first step, and notice how every one of them could be a press release headline.
Write the body copy. The press release should be written as you want it to appear in a news story. Most journalists are very busy; they may dig deeper into the story if it doesn't sound credible, but they generally won't have time to do extensive research into your company's big announcement. Much of what you write for your press release will be what the journalists use in their write up of your big event—in other words, if there are important details you want included in the story, you need to include them in the press release.
Start with the date and city in which the press release originates. The city may be omitted if it will be confusing –– for example if the release is written in New York about events in the company's Chicago division.
The lead, or first sentence, should grab the reader and say concisely what is happening. For example, if the headline is "Careen Publishing releases new WWII novel," the first sentence might be something like, " Publishing, Ltd., today released their first novel by celebrated writer ." It expands the headline enough to fill in some of the details, and brings the reader further into the story.
The next one to two sentences should then expand upon the lead. The press release body copy should be compact. Avoid using very long sentences and paragraphs. Avoid repetition and overuse of fancy language and jargon.
Strive for simplicity, and no wasted words. The first paragraph (two to three sentences) should sum up the press release, and the additional content must elaborate it. In a fast-paced world, neither journalists, nor other readers, would read the entire press release if the start of the article didn't generate interest.
Deal with actual facts –– events, products, services, people, targets, goals, plans, projects. Try to provide maximum use of concrete facts. This is news. A simple method for writing an effective press release is to make a list of following clarifications: Who, what, when, where, why, and how.
Communicate the "5 W's" (and the H) clearly. Who, what, when, where, why ––and how–– should tell the reader everything they need to know. Consider the checklist in context with the points below, using the example above to generate our press release:
Who is this about? Publishing.
What is the actual news? Publishing is releasing a book.
When does this even happen? Tomorrow.
Where does this even take place? In all major markets, tomorrow.
Why this is news? It was written by renowned author, .
How is this happening? The main event is at a book signing in Chicago, followed by a book tour to all the major metropolitan areas.
With the basics defined, fill in the gaps with information about the people, products, items, dates and other things related with the news.
If your company is not the main subject of the news, but is the source of the press release, make it clear in the body. Keep it short and to the point. If you are sending a hard copy, the text should be double-spaced.
The more newsworthy you make the press release copy, the better the chances of it being selected by a journalist for reporting. Find out what "newsworthy" means to a given market and use this knowledge to hook the editor or reporter.
Make it clean, crisp, and applicable to your audience. Odds are whoever you sent your press release to has a dozen just like it in his/her inbox just waiting to be ignored. If you want yours to be chosen, it's got to be good. Not only does it have to be good, but it has to be as close to "ready for press" as possible.
When an editor looks at your piece, he/she is thinking, from the first second, about how long it's going to take them to get it to print. If your work is full of errors, lacking content, or just needs to be revised, they're not going to waste their time.
So make sure you have good grammar, all the basics, and have something to write about.
Why should these people care what you have to say?
If you're sending it to the right audience, it'll be obvious.
If you're not, well, why are you wasting your time?
Give the right people a piece of news (news, not advertising)
and you're on the right track. They'll care more if you send it in the morning.
That gives them time to pad your piece into what they're already working on.
Tie it together. Provide some extra information links that support your press release. Does the company you're selling have additional information online that readers may find useful? Great. Add it in. If do some research on what's already out there. Someone probably wrote something on an event just like the one you're covering. PR Web and PR Newswire are good places to start.
Always remember that many editing teams are overworked and understaffed.
If you can make life easier for them, you're more likely to get coverage.
If you write a press release that's close to the way the editor will actually publish it,
it may see publication with minimal editing.
But if you fill it with fluffy advertising copy, don't use proper AP style, etc.,
the editor will surely delete this kind of fluff. Everybody says they're the leader.
Don't waste the editor's time.
The place to put a description is in the company information section of the release.
But keep it accurate and factual.
When emailing a press release, do not make the subject line of your email "press release."
You will only blend into the crowd.
Get the editor's attention by making the subject line your "grabber" headline,
for example, "Brand Co. wins $30 billion government contract."
Articles should be as up-beat and positive as possible.
Avoid phrases like "following the resignation of the previous chairman"
or "after a period of inactivity."
A journalist could decide to investigate those matters instead of reporting
what is in the press release
and—–even if the circumstances were completely innocuous,
for instance if the chairman had resigned due to ill health—–
the resulting copy might not be to your liking.
Do not include other people's contact details without getting their agreement.
In addition, they must be available at all reasonable hours in the days following the release.
Always include a quote—–ideally from the lead individual involved in the subject matter of the release.
The text need not be an actual quote but it should be plausible.
Either way, it is essential to check that the person being quoted is happy with it.
A quote allows a busy journalist to prepare a complete article without doing a follow-up interview.
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Explore this Article
Sample Press Releases
Making it Pop
Mastering the Format
Questions & Answers
Sample Press Releases
Where do I send my press release?
To local free and charged newspapers, local radio, community TV, libraries, and your city's events officer.
Where can I see an example of a press release?
Go to the website of a large company and find their page for "News" or "Media." You should find plenty of press releases there.
Categories: Featured Articles | Press Releases