A press release is the most effective way to generate free publicity for your business or organization. Well-written press releases can generate mountains of coverage, and most of the time, that coverage will be more in-depth than any ad. Writing press releases are tricky; since they’re targeted mostly to journalists, the focus, style, and tone are different from the typical business document. The following tips will help you craft a clear, creative press release.
Like any news story or announcement, a press release must be “spun” — that is, it must have a particular angle interesting to journalists and, subsequently, to readers. Sure, the opening of a new office might mean big things for your company, but it’s of little interest to the rest of the community if you don’t tell them why they should care. Consider the following elements of a good press release and incorporate them into your work:
This is the most basic concern you need to address; how is your news relevant to the publication’s demographic? Are you providing jobs or new services? Is a prominent community figure involved? Does it relate somehow to a recent hot topic? Always know your release’s relevance before writing.
A journalist will rarely pay attention to a release if it isn’t timely. Does your release relate specifically to a holiday or event? Did it happen recently or will it happen soon?
What makes your news unique? Is it something interesting, or different, enough that people outside your company or organization would want to read about it? Would you?
Lack of Competition
Think carefully about other news or events taking place at the time of your release. Are you competing with holiday news when your release isn’t at all holiday-related? Will publications have bigger stories with which to concern themselves? If so, hold off on releasing your story until there’s a bigger gap in the news cycle.
How you write your press release is equally as important as the information you choose (or choose not) to include. Follow these steps when writing your press release, and keep them in mind as you create a personal template for future releases.
This should be the first thing under your letterhead. Include the exact date if the material is restricted to a specific time, or use the words FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE if time isn’t a factor.
A strong headline will draw attention to your release, much like a strong headline draws attention to any news story. This should be one line only, in all caps, and indicative of your release’s exact point.
In three sentences or less, immediately summarize your story. This paragraph is often called a “nut graf” in the newspaper business — it tells the story in a nutshell.
The remaining paragraphs elaborate on your story and often include quotes from prominent people within the company or in your community. Keep the writing short and snappy, using familiar words and eliminating any clichés or redundancies. Remember: you’re essentially writing for journalists, so use a style similar to that of the publication you’re approaching. This should be no more than two paragraphs, which keeps your entire release to one double-spaced page.
A closing paragraph or summary (like the kind found in letters or reports) isn’t necessary for a release; remember, this is similar to a news story. End with either ###, -end- or -30-.