Writing a press release 101

Posted by - Angus Robinson on the 8th January 2018

Press releases are a brilliant way for businesses to get valuable publicity, whilst spreading a company message. They can boost business visibility at a relatively low cost and establish you as an industry expert. The art of writing the perfect press release can be tricky – here’s a run through of the best ways to get your press release noticed.

Remember: You should initially be writing your press release aimed at journalists. They are the first barrier you need to get through to allow your press release to be seen in the wider world. Focus you attention on how they will read your piece.

Plan

Planning a press release involves looking at the 4 w’s.

Who – Who’s involved in this piece of news? Who will it affect and who does it benefit? Was anyone else involved in the process?

What – What are you actually telling people? What is new and important that they should know?

Why – Why does this piece of news require a press release? What makes it so special and important?

Where – What location is this piece of news happening in and where does it affect?

Your story should be short, sweet and straight to the point. As with most newspaper articles, the most important part of your story should be included in the first paragraph (which shouldn’t really be any more than 2 sentences or 50 words long.)

Structure

Title – This is the first thing people see, so you need an attention grabbing title to make the journalist continue reading. Don’t focus on how it will look in the final print editions as the journalist will probably make significant changes anyway.

Spacing – Double space to make it clear for editors to read.

Paragraphs – It can’t be reiterated enough that your press release needs to be as short as possible whilst still capturing the essential information.

All key information should be put into the first paragraph. This should make sense as a standalone paragraph should the subsequent ones not be included. The second paragraph should go into more detail than the first, expanding key points.

The third usually gives a quote from a member of the company or a third party if it is appropriate and of value. Finally, the fourth paragraph should outline further information such as references or other services soon to be released

End – ‘Ends’ should be written in bold at the end followed by ‘for further information, please contact’ and the relevant contact details below. ‘Notes to editors’ can also be included if any further information needs to be given such as background information or availability of images.

Journalists

There are various kinds of journalists that you can contact with your press release. These include:

• local press (where your company is based)
• specialist press (your company’s sector)
• consumer press (if there is a wider, more mainstream benefit)
• national press (if there is a significant impact or change)

It’s also a great idea to sign up to websites such as HARO (Help A Reporter Out) where there are a huge volume of journalists available from publications both big and small, looking for specific kinds of press releases. Your story could be just what they’re searching for.

Contact

The subject line of your email should be the title of your press release, with the content included in the body of the email, not as an attachment. Repeat contact with editors is often necessary for press releases as there is such fierce competition.

Photos

Under the ‘note to editors’ section, you should state if you have photos available, but do not include them with your message. If editors respond and are interested in your photos, remember to include a caption for each.

Final Points

So, it is important to remember that your press release must be news worth and have value. Journalists will only consider your press release if it is actually relevant and appropriate. Take time to research who you will be targeting, adjusting your tone to fit a certain style of publication. Carefully draft and plan the structure of your release, ensuring you have covered the 4 w’s. Ultimately, if you have a great story worth sharing, writing a press release can be a fantastic way to get your business noticed.