This article will be segmented into:
- Basics of a press release
- 10 Top tips to writing a killer press release
A press release is a news story which is written in third person. It should explain an upcoming event, change, service, or product. A press release is often sent on its own via email. Press releases provide companies with an opportunity to showcase new brands, bring attention to a new product launch, promote an award or new appointment, and more. They offer an effective means of securing positive media coverage for your company and boosting your online profile. This attracts new customers, build authority around your brand and builds your audience base. If you are writing your press release by yourself it is good to have basic knowledge of the outline and what things to avoid. Continue reading for more information on this…
A press release should be formatted with your company logo at the top in the center. Below this on the left should be the contact name, the telephone number, and email address and on the right should be printed the release date. The contact information needs to include a company spokesperson or a staff member who is familiar enough with the event or product in question that they can field inquiries from reporters.
If you are sending it now then you would write “FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE”. In all upper case you put the main title of your press release centered below this information. The subtitle (if there is one) goes below this in title case. Below this you should start the body of your press release which has one space in between each paragraph and no indentations past the first paragraph. You can include a boilerplate at the end. Once you finish the press release you want to put three #’s at the center like so to signify the end:
# # #
Below the end of the release you should include the same contact information listed above at the footer with the heading “For more information, please contact…”
Within the body of the press release you want to hook the readers from the beginning with a press release headline. Your interest here should be as few words as possible and should state your announcement or news in the most exciting manner. It is advisable to emulate newspaper headlines. The title must be enticing. It must provide an overview of the story in a concise manner that encourages the reader to continue down the page. If you use puns they have to be very witty. You should never use clichés.
As for the subheading you want to provide a bit more information to your readers. You want to flesh out the angle you used to hook them in the heading without giving away all of the details you want in the body.
Your Lead Paragraph
When you write the first paragraph you have to assume that most people are not going to read beyond it. As such you want to include all of the facts here such as the:
- And how
Your first paragraph should begin with the dateline or the city from where the news is coming. You want to ensure anything that is newsworthy is summarized in a concise manner. The main story needs to come across in the first paragraph. You want to use what reporters call the “inverted pyramid” structure. This means the most significant parts of your story are listed at the top while those things of lesser importance are listed as you read farther down the page. This ensures that someone who only skims the top of your press release will get the most important information.
As for the remainder of your press release it can be beneficial to back up the claims you made in your headline. This can include quotes from experts but you must make sure you get their permission before publishing. You should have at least one quote in your press release from someone who is knowledgeable such as a technical expert in the field or a top executive. The quote should be used to explain how the announcement in your press release makes you company stand out against your competition—even if the competition is not mentioned by name. The quote allows you to add context to your announcement and talk about why it is important to your industry.
After you have done this you can close with one or two sentences describing your company and what you do.
Lastly you have the boilerplate. This term refers to a block of test which is used over and over again. For example you might include an explanation of symbols used in the beginning of the press release but in many cases it is the same information you use at the bottom of all of your press releases.
You should write from the perspective of a journalist and avoid ever using “I” or “we” unless it is part of a quite. You should avoid hype phrases such as “unique” or “state of the art”.
The shorter your press releases the better. If you can keep it under two pages that is fantastic but of course one page is even better. The length of your press release should provide all necessary information. You want to make sure that the facts are there even if it runs a bit over the one or two pages.
Writing a killer press release means you use every technology available to you. Today’s business world means that you will likely be sending your press release via email and posting it on live websites. As such you should include video and audio features if possible. This provides an opportunity to back link to other material on your site such as previous press releases or articles related to the current press release. This will provide additional context for the news media.
10 Top Tips
1. Make sure you grab the journalist’s attention
Reporters are faced with a flood of press releases in their inbox each day. Your press release should answer the question “why should I care?” for the journalist.
In order to ensure you grab the attention of the reporter and get the news coverage you want you need to stick with a good format and the right information. You want to make sure you create a positive impression for your company. A killer press release will make the journalist stop caring about anything else in front of them. No matter the task they are doing they will drop it for you. The title is everything, when a journalist looks through their emails and the many, many press releases they receive they will probably not even read your press release if the title does not grab their attention. The title should epitomize your press release, it should be in similar style to the types of titles that the journalist normally publishes and should be a title that will instantly have the reader wanting to read more. For the sake of a good title it could mean the difference between being published in high authority publications and not, so do spend time on your title and consider the message of your press release, is it a message that the journalist would want to promote to their readers?
2. Make sure your provide enough information
If you assume the readers know everything about your company you are making a big mistake. You need to include all relevant facts about the company in the press release. Readers will not be patient enough to Google search for company background themselves so you need to make sure this information is added.
3. Make sure you use the right punctuation and grammar
Proper punctuation is a “must” for all press releases. Journalists will want the copy “ready to print” as soon as they receive it. They will not waste time double checking your work to make sure there are no errors. If you submit and send a press release with errors it will forever leave a negative mark on your company. Be sure to double and triple check your work. If the press release you send has errors or is irrelevant to the area of coverage no journalist will touch it.
4. Make sure no content is lifted from another website or newsletter
You want to make sure your content is not copied from elsewhere on the web. Start from scratch the write the press release for your particular situation and the magazine or newspaper you are targeting. If your content is plagiarized or copied from another source you run the risk of not only staining the reputation of your company but of having any online companies which promote or publish the press release being penalized by Google algorithms. This is very bad for business. You can use websites such as copyscape.com to check and make sure the content in your press release does not match existing content on the web.
5. Make sure you make the most out of your quotes
As previously discussed your quotes can provide a lot of useful angles or information. You want to make sure that the quotes you include send a strong message. You do not want a quote that only repeats the information you already have in your press release. Use the quotes as an opportunity to sell your company and its positive image.
6. Make sure you limit the exclamation mark!
When you are writing a press release you want to avoid over-hyped copy. If your copy is full of wild claims and exclamation marks about the upcoming event or service it will end up listed as spam. You do not want to limit yourself to unnecessary adjectives as this will make your press release read more like an advertisement.
7. Make sure you do not use CAPS all the time
You should avoid the use of CAPS unless absolutely necessary. Do not use it on your company name because your company name is quite obvious without the annoying CAPS getting in the way. It is odd when used to emphasize words in the middle of your press release.
8. Make sure your ego stays at home
It can be difficult but you need to make sure you take your ego out of it when you are crafting a press release. Ask yourself if the information is actually newsworthy and if you are only conveying the facts. It might be helpful to put yourself in the shoes of a busy reporter and ask if you would take the time to read the entire press release and report on it if you were in their position.
9. Make sure you research beforehand
It is always good to research before you tackle a writing task. The same is true for press releases. You want to immerse yourself in online examples and really get a feel for the technical format and writing styles used in major newspapers and on internet websites.
With communication getting increasingly faster and social networking becoming a common method of exchange it does not hurt to do your homework. Find out the name of the journalist who may be covering your press release and find them ahead of time on Twitter or Facebook. They—like yourself—are always looking to expand themselves professionally and that means building relationships with clients. It can help you tremendously to follow them and engage with them on a personal level. Journalists are real people to so have a real conversation with them before you flood their inbox. If they recognize your name or the name of your company—whether consciously or not—they will be drawn to your press release above all else. You can find journalists on Twitter here, however there are many more sites online that will help you to find the journalists you need based on your industry.
10. Make sure your copy is not too promotional
As previously mentioned you do not want your press release to read like an advertisement. After you write the release take a minute to read back through it and ensure it provides a rounded overview of the product or event. While your press release should be promotional it should not be treated as an advertisement. You want to keep it factual at all times and remain objective.
Above all else remember that a killer press release is one that is not strewn with bells and whistles. It follows a traditional template which is easy to follow and sends out a concise and positive message for your company. The “killer” aspect of your press release is how you utilize multimedia in a low key yet noticeable manner and how you ensure journalists are your friends.