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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Dos and Don’ts When Sending a Press Release

DO spend time before starting to decide what your angle is and which readers you want to target.

DON’T waste your time sending to titles whose readership does not fit with your target customers.

DO research titles’ readership demographics, style, reporter contact details and deadlines.

DON’T send a press release that isn’t relevant to a title.
A local newspaper in Bournemouth will not be interested in a fantastic new product by a designer from Blackpool. A design magazine will be interested in a fantastic new product by a designer from Blackpool if it is innovative enough. A local newspaper in Blackpool will also be interested.

DON’T send out a blanket press release to everyone.

DO write different versions for different titles.

DON’T just send your release out and hope for the best.
The contact you have picked could be on holiday or sick leave or your email could get stuck in the spam filter.

DO call to let the journalist know it’s on its way and phone again to check they’ve received it. However…

DON’T bother a journalist when he or she is near their deadline, unless you have a genuine scoop for them.

DO pick a good time and be polite.

DON’T think the job is done yet…

DO keep an eye out for your piece – if you’re happy with it a quick email to say thanks will never hurt. If it doesn’t go in, ring to politely ask why. It may be there has been a busy news period and it will soon be featured. If it doesn’t make the grade, ask why, listen to feedback, improve and learn for next time.

DO remember – these are the bare bones of placing and monitoring a press release. There are other factors such as timing and exclusivity. How to write a press release and thinking about accompanying images will be the subjects of future blogs, so please check back. If this all sounds too difficult or you need further advice:

DO please get in touch with me at laura@datgan.co.uk – I’m here to help.