The easiest way to get free, positive publicity for any individual or entity is to issue a press release or PR. Writing a Press Release is one of the vital skills that a PR practitioner, marketing professional, or corporate communicator should be able to master.
Don’t worry, though, if you have troubles writing a media release. This article shares everything you need to know to write a press release. We will cover proven steps how to write a press release for a new business, a new product or service, and how to increase the chances of the article getting published in the newspaper or online.
Aside from getting free, good media mileage, there are other purposes of a press release. A well-written media release can pique the interest of journalists, who may be intrigued and motivated to cover a certain topic even further. And it is often used as a background material for securing a television or magazine feature.
What You Need to Consider before writing a PR
While the prospect of getting free publicity for the company you’re representing is very enticing, there’s one question that you have to ask first before you even draft a press release—‘ is the story you’re writing about newsworthy?’
It is not uncommon for many PR practitioners to send out press releases using material that is not newsworthy. They’re basically wasting their time and effort because if the material itself is not worthy of media coverage, then there’s no chance that the journalist or newspaper will publish it.
There are many good reasons for sending a press release. It can be a new product or service offered by the company, an opening of a new branch or office, or a special event.
However, you can also look for a human interest angle in your material. Is there anything unusual or extraordinary about the story that you are trying to pitch? Can you show that your news has an impact on people? And why should people care about your story?
The last story may sound harsh, but it is perhaps the most important question that needs to be answered. For example, a new branch or office may only be important to your company, but it wouldn’t really matter to other people.
Lastly, there should be a time element in your story. News agencies prefer to publish a story that is recent. Does your blog have a new post that is worth sharing about? Does your online business have new products offered to clients? These are some of the questions you may ask yourself or your team in determining whether or not you have a newsworthy material.
The Writing Process
So how do you start to write a press release?
It starts by thinking of a catchy, engaging headline that summarizes everything the reader would need to know about the story without actually reading the entire text. The headline should be engaging and accurate. Most of the time, journalists will judge the press release on the title or headline alone.
You need to start out strong with the first paragraph. Having an interesting and succinct lead paragraph can grab your reader’s attention, and make him or her read the rest of the story.
However, don’t lose sleep on what your title might look good in print and online. You should know that most editors or journalists will change the title anyway when they are to use your media release.
The next part of the press release is the lead paragraph, or the opening paragraph. In writing the lead, answer the 5Ws and 1H (who, when, what, where, why, how), a basic formula that journalists use in data-gathering and news writing.
In writing the story, follow the inverted pyramid formula. This means that the most important information are presented in the first paragraph, then the next most important details in the next paragraph, and so on.
Why is this style of writing recommended?
Remember that journalists and editors are busy people. They’re always trying to beat deadlines. Thus, they prefer that the news is presented to them in this manner.
Moreover, newspaper readers are also as busy, if not busier, as journalists and editors. So you should write your stories in the most concise way possible.
It’s also recommended to use double spacing with wide margins. This not only makes your press release
Therefore, the second paragraph expounds or explains the information presented in the lead paragraph by giving more details. The third paragraph can provide a quote from a company spokesperson. The fourth paragraph can outline other less-important information such as products in the pipeline, or ordering information, among others.
It is up to you how many paragraphs you can come up with, but remember that your audience doesn’t have all the time in the world to read kilometric stories. It is suggested that you keep the word count to 400 to 500 words. That’s like three or four short paragraphs plus a couple of quotes. In terms of pages, the ideal length of a press release is one to two pages.
While you want to write as concise and brief as possible, you should not skip the important parts or the “meat” of the story.There’s no need to give lengthy explanations in the story. A good rule of thumb is to write sentences that are 25 words in length or even fewer. This gives the press release a “punch” and makes it more intriguing to the reader.
It’s also great to include quotes from important people in your company. Usually, the company president is the designated spokesperson or resource person of the firm. It is not uncommon, however, to use the PR head as the talking head in press releases.
As much as possible, don’t use quotes to provide information like figures. Instead, the quote should be used in providing insights and opinions. Avoid using motherhood statements, too.
But this doesn’t mean that you should not pack your press release with figures. Journalists love hard numbers, and the use of these details can support the significant of your product or service. Simply put, if you’re claiming something, you should be able to back it up. Giving figures will make your case even more compelling.
Don’t just end your article abruptly. You can indicate the end of the article by typing the word “End” in bold, or using the sign “#” thrice at the end of the text. After that, write a short background on your company.
You can also end the article by specifying “for more information, please contact” and then indicating the company’s official spokesperson. When giving out the contact details, give a mobile number instead of a landline number so that journalists can still contact the person even after office hours.
Press Release Best Practice
There are other press release tips that you should be familiar with to enhance the chances of your media release being picked up.
One is the timing of the press release. You can indicate that the release is for immediate release, or for
The usual practice is to have a PR released immediately. Many journalists may feel frustrated receiving information under embargo because they can’t use it right away. An embargo, however, doesn’t mean that the journalist can’t contact the designated media contact indicated in the release. It only means that the release should not be used before a particular date.
You should also know more about the press and media you will be targeting. Check out good websites with high traffic, monitor newspapers and magazines in your area, and tune in to relevant TV and radio programs. This way, you would be able to know which media would likely pick up your story.
Always write in the third person. Avoid using “I” or “we” unless in a direct quote. Moreover, avoid the use of industry jargon because not everyone reading the press release have an idea of whatever you are talking about. A reliable press release service will have their internal filter to reject PR that contains
Don’t send a press release without proofreading it. If possible, let other people in your team have a look as well before you send it out. A single grammatical error can be a huge turnoff; enough for a journalist or editor from picking up the press release. Remember, too, that there are many press releases sent to a reporter on a daily basis. Thus one or two typographical mistake would make the difference between the media release getting uploaded or published, or being tossed into the trash bin.
If you have budget, you may want to send out a press kit instead of a simple one or two page media release. This press kit is a folder containing the press release along with a cover letter, business card, and several photos that the journalist or editor may use. It is also a common practice to include any other information that can convince the editor or journalist to write about your company such as product reviews or reprints of articles previously published in other publications.
But by sending out a press release, does that mean you should not send a media release through email?
Not at all, as most journalists prefer to receive information through email. One, sending out a printed press release without a soft copy means that the journalist will likely have to type the information indicated in the media release.
And two, with all the printed press releases that are sent to media offices on a daily, it will be easy for your press release to get lost.
Of course, email inboxes of reporters and editors are also inundated with media releases. But this is where the use of an engaging, attention-grabbing headline will work wonders. Think of a catchy title that will immediately grab the attention of the journalist, so that your email message will be opened by your target recipient.
Moreover, the press release should be pasted into the message body and not attached as a file. Remember that like most offices, press and media organizations have anti-virus software in their computers that automatically block on attachments.
Photos will always be welcomed by any reporter or editor, especially if the photo is quite striking. As such, you should not send head-and-shoulder shots because these will definitely not be used.
This is where you can sit down with the company photographer and think of creative shots for the press release. However, avoid sending photos with large logos in the background because journalists likely won’t use it.
Now that you have an idea on how to write a good press release, you can start sitting with your team and brainstorming about possible topics that you can pitch to the media networks.
As long as you think and write like a journalist, you should have no problems learning to write an effective press release. The concepts of writing a press release for websites are basically the same as writing an SEO-friendly press release.
Whether you’re trying to learn to write a press release for an event or a book, you should remember that media release should convey relevant and newsworthy information to its readers.
Moreover, you should know which journalist or editor to pitch your story, whether you’re attempting to learn how to write a press release for a company and PR for a product.
Finally, manage your expectations. Remember that competition is