How to write a press release

Nicholas Newman
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The purpose of a press release is to tell your market about your business, its news and offers. It is the most cost-effective method of advertising the goods and services your business offers. For many it is a very difficult and time-consuming task.

Contact Nicholas Newman when you need effective copy including press releases and commercial content written for you.

Getting organised!

Questions to ask yourself before you start writing the press release.

  1. Why is this press release being written?

Answer: It could be to broadcast information such as your new opening times, increase business, update target audiences, to maintain public awareness of your business.

  1. Who is the audience?

Answer: Holiday-makers, business people, teachers, luxury food market.

  1. Does the press release contain invaluable or newsworthy information that will be used by the target audience?

Answer: It could be news of next week’s pop concert or discount bus fares.

  1. Is there a just cause for release the information that you wish to broadcast?

Answer: Opening of a new shop or the tenth anniversary of your business.

  1. What do you want recipients to take away from the press release?

Answer: News of the goods and services you offer, plus your location.

 

55481486_mThe underlying messages and structure of the press release

 

Layout

 

  1. Content – make sure that the release is grammatically correct and doesn’t contain any spelling mistakes, errors, and sources are quoted correctly. Check that you are using the correct writing style, words and grammar that are suitable for meeting the needs of you intended market e.g. for golf fans.

 

  1. Concise – keep it punchy and don’t use unnecessary flowery language e.g. cutting- edge, revolutionary. No sentence should be more than 20 words, and try to use action verbs such as Absorb, Accelerate, Access and Accomplish.

 

  1. Factual – present the information for distribute that is true, correct and doesn’t embellish anything that to be communicated. In other words keep it simple and to the point.

 

  1. Objectivity – almost impossible to do, but refrain from using over hyped quotes from sources as they will be read as being biased. See above.

 

  1. Timing – The press release may not be topical, but it may be able to incorporate the release with a more recent news event, for instance news of a new book about General Wellington on the anniversary of the battle of Waterloo.

 

Writing the Press Release

  1. Assemble and Organise Your Facts. A simple rule is to find answers to questions pertaining to the who, what, when, where, why of the event, don’t forget ‘how’. Put a date and location on the release and remember, yesterday’s news isn’t going to go far. I found creating a structured chart helps!
  1. Identify Your Story’s Angle. A good story angle must have the following three attributes:
  • It must be the most important fact in your story.
  • It must be timely, unique, newsworthy or contrary to industry norms and trends.
  • This story angle must be presented in the first paragraph as well as the headline of your press release.
  1. Create a Catchy Headline. Keeps the headline short and simple using less than ten words. It should convey the key points raised in the opening paragraph in a light-hearted manner that catches imagination and attention of the journalist. Write a strong headline that gets attention but, remember, you are dealing with journalists and they can be a cynical bunch. So do not go overboard.

31292838_sFor example headlines.

  • Hurry – Final few homes remaining!
  •  Staffordshire’s Halloween Fright-fest!
  •  ALL ROADS LEAD TO McDonald’s!

Date of Release

If the release is for immediate release, then say so and make this clear i.e. FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE.

Or give an embargo date e.g. Press Release – embargoed until 1830 on 27 September 2016

Opening Paragraph:

Should include the key theme of the press release.

The Body Paragraphs:

Should include details of the story.

The Last Paragraph:

Should sum up the story.

  1. Writing in Third-Person Voice. A press release must be presented objectively from a third person point of view. Some of the guidelines are listed below:
  • refrain from using any sales pitch in your press release.
  • remove “you”, “I”, “we” and “us” and replace them with “he” and “they”.
  • provide references to any statistics, facts and figures raised in the press release.
  • refrain from expressing personal opinions, unless they are done in quotes.
  • draw conclusions from facts and statistics only – not general opinion.

Remember no sentence should be longer than 20 words!

  1. Provide “Quotes” From the News makers. Put the most important message down into a quote. Reporters always use quotes from the news makers e.g. the owner of the company, or and relevant comments from customers, to add an authoritative voice to their reports. If the press release contains quotes that are important and relevant to the story, chances are high that they will be replicated in full in the published article. Make sure the quotes are really quotable e.g. ‘We are here to talk about healthcare and not Mr Cameron!’
  1. Provide Additional Background Information. End the press release with an appendix that provides brief background information on the company e.g. the age of the company, type of business and what makes it special, news makers, as well as who to contact by email, phone, mobile and post for further information.
  1. Sources. Attribute every source!
  2. Check your facts!

Summary: The above writing points provide you with some of the essential tips you need to compose a good press release. But, it should help you get started on writing a press release yourself. Remember that practice makes perfect and the best way to learn how to write an effective press release, is to observe how business news is reported in the business section of newspapers like the Telegraph, Guardian, New York Times. Or contact Nicholas Newman to write corporate copy such as press releases for your business.

The Vital Extras

In addition, always check your press release before submitting it for internal sign-off. Look out for the following including:

  • Unnecessary words
  • Spelling or grammatical errors
  • Contradictions or inconsistencies – particularly if using percentages
  • Accuracy of any statistics or numbers quoted
  • Accuracy of dates, times and places
  • Punctuation

It is often best to print off your press release when you finish writing it and check it through. You will often spot mistakes you did not see on the screen. In addition, it is worth asking a colleague to double check.

 44193277_sConstruction

  1. In general, a press release shouldn’t be more than one page long.
  2. The Physical Format, separate the sections clearly to make sure that the recipient can access the information that they need effectively. Use something similar to below and stick to a format:

—BEGINS—

Let the journalist know where they should start.

—ENDS—

Let the journalist know where the release finishes.

—NOTES FOR EDITORS—

Extra information about the topic, company, etc., e.g. summary of the company’s activities, how long the organisation has been established.

—CONTACT—

Name, title, address, phone number, fax, e-mail and websites address if the journalist needs more information or more quotes.

 

—SENDER—

Most writers will recognise ##### for as the end of a release.

Place you full contact details here – so if there are any enquiries the journalist has a contact to get back to.

As for images

There are several solutions including:

  1. As an attachment
  2. A link to a dedicated page on corporate website or image storage sites like Dropbox, Pinterest, Flicker, http://www.google.com/photos/about/ 

15505624_mDistribution.

  1. Don’t send your email as an attachment as some recipients do not open files that they think may contain a virus, or may not find attachments acceptable unless they are warned beforehand. Also, target your press release; find out who covers your topic in the organisation you are sending it to. So for instance there is no point sending a press release about luxury food to a motoring journalist.
  2.  Ring the journalist up, you have sent the email press release to, so as to check it has arrived and they have seen it. Always ask if they want further information.
  3.  Always have a photograph available. Do not send it with the original release – only send it when asked by a reporter. Make sure the picture is high resolution and professional. It should be at least 1.5 megabytes in size.
  4.  Make sure to publish the PR to your own website under News or About so the media can see other topics you have written about and are an expert in. They are looking for established experts so you want to portray yourself as one.
  5.  Switch off the email editor facility if your package caters for these. You don’t know what email software your recipient will be using, it is far more effective to send it by email in plain text.
  6.  Remove bold, italics, underlining, and unnecessary formatting, as when it is delivered it is likely to be ignored.
  7.  Most importantly ensure that the release is hitting your target audience and not sent to recipients that are not relevant.
  8. Always put a copy of your press release on your corporate news page and various social media forums such as LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter etc.

 

For press release templates:

http://office.microsoft.com/en-gb/templates/?CTT=97

http://office.microsoft.com/en-gb/templates/press-release-professional-design-TC102808439.aspx

 

Nicholas Newman
Nicholas Newman

Don’t have the time, skills or ability to

write an effective press release, brochure, advertisement,

advertorial or other business related copy?

Then contact Nicholas Newman to do the job for you.

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