How to Write a Press Release

A press release is a presentation of facts designed to convince the media to cover your story. A traditional public relations method, it’s still very effective in building your profile and establishing you as a trusted authority in your field. If people have been reading about you in their local newspaper or your trade publication or website they will be more impressed by you and familiar with you than if they’ve only seen your advert.

But how do you go about it? In last month’s blog I explain what you should think about before you start to write. If you’ve done that and now know who you are writing for and what your angle is, then let’s get cracking.

Headline and intro

Pinpoint what the story you want to get across is and think about how you would explain it to a friend. You need to answer the what, who, when, how and why of your story. You need to put the crux of the whole story into one punchy, brief nutshell of a first sentence.

If you are struggling with the punchy bit, or encapsulating the gist of the story, I recommend writing the whole release then going back to craft your introduction and headline.

Expansion

The next few paragraphs develop the story by expanding the information, adding more details until the what, who, when, how and why is answered. Get all the crucial facts as high up the release as you can. This means that if your story needs to be cut down it can be done easily without losing any integral parts.

Quotes

Use lively and positive quotes from yourself or someone else relevant to the story to add colour. This is a golden opportunity for you to get extra information into the story as the journalist cannot change the quotes. So don’t waste them retelling something you have already mentioned.

Details

Journalists like details so include information such as where the people featured in the release live, their ages, and anything else of interest. When talking about your company don’t forget to briefly say where it is based and explain what it does.

Rules

Write ‘press release’ and the date at the top with an eye-catching, engaging title just beneath. You should write about 400 words and put ENDS at the end of the release. If your release is longer than a page put M/F (for more follows) at the bottom of the first page. Any photo captions, photo call invitations, and, above all, contact details go below ‘ends’ in a ‘notes to editors’ section.

Photography

If your story is publicising an event, include a photo call to photographers in the notes to editors with the time, date and location. Include a mobile contact in case the photographer can’t attend at that time and might want to set something up. For the same reason have your own photographer on stand-by in case the photographer doesn’t make it.

If you have a photograph that you own the copyright for that would accompany the release well, do send it. A good photograph will increase the chance of the story securing a prominent position in a publication or website.

Before you send

It is important when writing a press release not to assume any prior or specialist knowledge in the reader. If you’re commenting on a news story or local or industry development you must recap what this is in case the reader hasn’t heard of it. You must also avoid technical terms in favour of layman’s language. As a final check read the release through and pretend you know nothing about your subject or get someone else to read it for you. When reading you shouldn’t find any questions that aren’t explained, any incomplete facts, or any spelling or grammar errors.

If you’re happy you’ve done all this, you’re ready to send! My blog Dos and Don’ts When Sending a Press Release might help with the next step.

Datgan’s press releases are mostly published verbatim, so it might be quicker and easier for you to outsource.

Image by Pexels from Pixabay

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Things to Think About Before Writing a Press Release

I’ve already shared my Dos and Don’ts When Sending a Press Release, now I’m going to let you in on even more insider knowledge in the first of a series of blogs on this rather hefty topic. This blog covers things to think about before writing a press release, a companion guide to June’s blog: How to Write a Press Release.

What and who?

Before you start writing, think about what the story you want to get across is, and who your target readers are.

While all positive publicity is good, seeing a press release through its writing, placement and monitoring takes time – so think about who your target market is and prioritise. Write for your target market first and if you have more time you can always target other markets later.

For some publications, for example Saga, the magazine for the over 50s, the demographic of its readership is obvious. For others this information may be available on its website or by asking for a media pack.

Read the publications you’ve identified

Read the titles you want to be featured in to learn their house styles and individual reporters’ interests and contact details. Research national and trade titles online. Take note of deadlines.

What’s your story?

Don’t just write a press release because business is slow and you want some general coverage. Decide in advance on your story.

How strong the story needs to be depends on the publication. For a local newspaper if you live or work in their catchment area and you are doing something interesting, that is usually enough. A business opening, tick. A successful apprenticeship scheme, tick. Staff doing a parachute jump, tick.

For a regional or national business section or trade publication it needs to be bigger – taking on a significant number of new staff, reaching an important milestone, doing something innovative, offering useful advice to other businesses, commenting as an expert on a topical and relevant issue.

What’s your angle?

Find your angle. In a simple story, there will be one obvious angle. If you have a lot of information to get across or there are a few things happening, think about what is most newsworthy and start with that.

A picture tells a thousand words

It’s always good to supply a high-quality photo to accompany your press release, as it increases the chances of your piece securing a prominent place in your target publication.

If your story is about something that has already happened, send a good photo of the event with your release. If the release is not time sensitive, pay a photographer or get a creative on your staff to take an interesting, good quality photo to accompany it.

If you do all this groundwork you’ll be ready to get stuck in to writing, so please come back in June for How to Write a Press Release.

Five Reasons Why Your Business Needs PR

If you’re a small business or start-up you may think that PR is only for big companies. If you do believe PR might be useful to you, you may think it’s too expensive.

But you know who your customers and target customers are, and you know you have to get word out to them. But how? This is where I argue that PR gives you a much better value return on your money than advertising.

With advertising you can blow your budget in one fell swoop. If you’re advertising an event or a one-off offer you might get the result you want, but it may not have any lasting effects.

With PR, your budget can be spent on a mix of PR tools including press releases, community events, social media and digital marketing tailored especially to best reach your target market.

Think about it as a consumer: if you’re thinking of buying something expensive, an advert might bring a product to your attention, but a favourable review or article is what helps you to make up your mind.

PR gets you genuine press or online coverage which holds more sway than an advert. Articles, blogs and reviews are seen as a third party endorsement, while everyone knows an advert has been paid for – if they even look at it.

Each bit of good PR is keeping your name on people’s lips and building up your reputation.

Here are just five reasons why you need PR:

  1. Blowing your own trumpet.

If you don’t, no one else will.

Single mum gone from living on benefits to giving your family a great life through your business with hard work and a great idea? Share that! Helping young people with an apprenticeship scheme? Tell everyone! Stocking only Fair Trade products? Show off that you care!

 

  1. Taking control of your own story.

Tell people what you want to tell and how you want to tell it. The very act of thinking about your story and your PR strategy ensures you plan ahead. This means you’re well placed to make the most of all opportunities. If there’s a positive story to tell, tell it.

 

  1. Raising your profile/Building brand awareness

Letting people know you’re there and keeping up a regular flow of communication keeps your name out there and over time builds trust, good relationships and good reputations.

 

  1. Establishing yourself as an expert

Appearing in print media regularly, writing blogs and guest blogs, offering to answer readers’ questions in a local newspaper or online chat all help to position you as a leader in your field, and to customers as someone whose products/services are of a high standard.

 

  1. Reputation/crisis management

Sometimes you need PR to handle a negative situation, be it a bad online review to a fire at your factory. Having someone on your side who can handle the media, knows what to say and what not to say can be invaluable.

 

Ready to take the plunge? Call Laura Edwards on 01352 754011 07958 716489 or email laura@datgan.co.uk to discuss a PR plan to suit your budget.