Writing a Press Release
Here are my 12 tips for writing a press release that the media will notice. The tips will help your release stand out from the crowd, which is important because journalists are bombarded every day with hundreds of releases, and you want the one you send to be among the releases they read.
#1. Make sure that the news in your release is really news. An announcement that you may think is exciting may be nothing special to the media. Here's a quote that I think sums it up well: "When a dog bites a man that is not news, but when a man bites a dog that is news." Charles Anderson Dana, American journalist, 1819-1897
Your answers to the following questions should help you determine whether or not people in the media are likely to find of interest what you want to write about in a release:
• Is what I am publicizing of importance to anyone other than me and my business?
• How does what I have to announce affect others -- why would anyone outside my business care about it?
• Is what I want to publicize new, ground-breaking, innovative, interesting or unusual?
• Is the subject of my release about to happen or did it just happen? The media is not interested in old news.
#2. When you can, tie the information in your press release to current events, trends, statistics a new report, and the like.
#3. Add an attention-grabbing headline to the top of your release. But don't be sensational or misleading.
#4. Put your most important information in the very first paragraph of your release. That’s usually the “who, what, where, when and why” of your news. Add details in subsequent paragraphs, with each succeeding paragraph containing increasingly less important information.
#5. Note at the top of your release the name, title and contact information (phone and e-mail address) of the individual within your organization that the media should contact if they have questions about the information in the release or want to schedule an interview. Make sure that whoever does the interview is fully informed about the news in the release and comfortable talking to the media.
#6. Include relevant hyperlinks in your release. For example, include a hyperlink to your website, to any report or study you may reference in the release, to a video, the first chapter of an e-book you may be promoting, and so on.
#7. Keep your press release short -- no more than one page ideally. Make every word count.
#8. If your release will be longer than one page, put -over- at the bottom of the first page and print the rest of the release on the reverse side of that page. Signify the end of your release by typing this symbol ### after your final copy. Center the symbols on the page. Note: These instructions are only important if you are mailing rather than emailing your releases to the media. If you are mailing them, print the releases on your business letterhead.
#9. If you are sending your release via email, paste your copy into the body of the email rather than sending it as an attachment. Nearly all media outlets have filters that prevent unsolicited attachments from ending up in a reporter's e-mail box.
#10. Avoid hyperbole, embellishments, buzz words or slang in your release. Otherwise, you risk undercutting your message and your credibility. Stick to the facts.
#11. Don't turn your press release into an ad for your business. If your release is little more than a sales job, the media will ignore it.
#12. Ask at least one other person at your business to read your release to catch any grammatical or spelling errors you may have missed. This person should also help you ensure that the information in your release reads well and that you’ve not omitted anything important.
Click here for a sample press release format you can model your release after.
Read this article if you want to make your press release part of a press kit.
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