What is a press release?
A press release is your businesses ticket to publicity - a standardised way to communicate with journalists and get your story covered in the media. Whether you want to shout about a new product, promote an event or highlight business success, a press release can be the most effective way of getting your message to the masses.
See also: The DIY PR checklist
Writing a press release
Think about your audience. Your release needs to be tailored to the target market you are trying to reach and the publication(s) you are sending to. Not only will this increase the chances of it getting published, but it also means the audience is more likely to be engaged with the story. Don’t assume that your reader knows about your business. Keep sentences and paragraphs short and easy to read; too long and chances are the reader will lose interest.
‘The Inverted Pyramid News Writing’
Utilising this method of writing will ensure that the most important and most interesting piece of information is at the top of the article. Your reader could be distracted and stop reading at any time – have they got the vital information?
The headline needs to attract the reader’s attention and draw them into the story. Short, punchy and informative it is usually the hardest bit to write. Use clear, understandable language with action verbs for impact. Don’t get hung up on having the perfect headline and waste time trying to get it right before writing the rest of the article, you can always come back to it.
Equally, don’t be disheartened if editors change your title, this is perfectly normal.
The most important information, usually just a couple of lines that make the first paragraph. This bit may include a hook such as a question. Think about the ‘what, who, when, where, why and how’.
The part where the story plays out, giving more background information and detail. Do you have a relevant quote from key stakeholders you can include? It will add context, help to give more of a personal feel to an article and give the company a voice. Include any ‘hygiene’ information such as event details and ticket prices, at the end.
There are no set rules on how to format a press release but it must be easy to read. Typed, double-spaced, clear font, headline in bold and usually a font size (or two) bigger than the rest of the article. Keep the press release to one, max two, pages.
If you have great images to sit with the story then include them but make sure you have the necessary copyright/credit in place if it’s not your picture, as well as a caption to go with the image. You can include a boilerplate that describes your business, products or services, and website or social media links. These usually sit at the bottom of the release as a note to editor.
Your press release will speak volumes about your business so think about your brand and the impression you want to make. You can keep a press release fun and friendly or more serious depending on the message you want to convey.
Check, check and double check. Be your own proof editor and, if you have the time, leave the story for a couple of hours or even a day, come back and read it with fresh eyes. Keep it succinct and take out any superfluous words or sentences. A press release with bad grammar, typos and errors is far less likely to be picked up. It’s amazing the mistakes you’ll pick up on and how much better you can make your own work.