Press Release 101

I’ve talked a little bit about mondo times and about how to reach out to press outlets- but what about how to write a press release that really gets some attention? How do you make sure that those lists you make, the releases you send appeal to the news outlets and get some notice? There are a few key elements to crafting a press release that just pops- whether you are doing it for print or for the internet. You can write a press release that is sure to get the point across and open the door to future releases being accepted and distributed more freely.

Make it relevant to the current news climate- if your point isn’t so much newsworthy, you can almost always find a way to tie it into a current event that matters to people. This is a very easy way to find your “in”. An example, if your business is engaged in things for the social good of your community, bringing up a few statistics to show why that’s important will help.

Look in the paper. Figure out which headlines gain the most notice- and this is where a little online legwork can make a big impact. Most online news sources enable commenting on their stories- craft your headlines in a similar way to the ones that get the most comments. Capture a really compelling tone.

You can’t say it enough- who, what, when, where, why, and how. You don’t have to adhere to any real ordering on that, but it’s always good to begin with the why- why your product or service helps, why it is needed, why the event your company is attending, hosting, or anything to that effect is needed.

Standard press release template is that the next paragraphs are the “what”, but often times, that’s a little hard to disseminate- if you can blend and flow a bit, it makes it easier on the reader to digest. Short, sweet and to the point with your sentences and paragraphs. Closing it out with where the event, sale or base is tends to be good, because it brings it all to a closing point that is actually a call to action.

When you are writing a press release, do not use promotional language- you’re writing news, you’re not “marketing”. Avoid sounding like a sales pitch. Including quotes and statistics usually works well for “promoting without sounding promotional”.

From an online perspective, when you do include your contact information, always be sure to include a website address. Closing out your press release- here are a couple of practical tips- keep it at one page, end with ### to indicate the close of the release. Be sure that you send it to the correct editor, and always confirm the method they prefer delivery. Not all will accept faxes, so when in doubt, ask. It doesn’t do you much good to create a great press release if the press outlet is not going to accept it, and you’d be surprised at how many good releases are never seen due to it being sent in incorrect format.