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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.