A press release is a useful communication tool that is distributed to the media. Its purpose is to announce news items, events, product launches or business updates.
Journalists are more likely to cover your story if you have taken the time to draft your own press release. They often don't have time to hunt around for the information they need. By providing everything fuss-free, your story is more likely to be covered.
It's also helpful to provide an image, something other than your logo. Or you could always issue a 'photo call' – inviting the newspaper or magazine to attend your office or event on a specific date and time. They can then take an original photograph for their publication.
However, regional or small weekly newspapers are increasingly running out of resource to do this, so it might be worth calling up your local rag to find a freelance photographer they like to use. Then pay for some professional shots of yourself, working in your environment. You'll then have print-quality images ready to put in front of any journalist, making their job a lot easier and making them want to run your story.
These days, you've also got to consider online media. This is where your SEO strategy comes in to play. Don't just provide the journalist with a URL for your website. Make sure they use hyperlinks that include your business name and/or keywords.
With all of the above in mind, here are 10 tips on how to write a press release...
Give your press release an interesting title – don’t worry too much about it being snappy. You just need your release to stand out from the crowd. Make sure your title is in bold. Put a date on your news release, ideally on the same date it’s issued. This will add gravitas to your story.
2. Going online
If you're targeting online media, give your story a title with SEO in mind. This relates to meta titles because most posts on magazine sites, such as Creative Boom, should automatically take the title of your story and place into the meta title. Therefore, make sure you include your keywords, company name and business location.
3. Immediate or hang fire?
Decide whether your press release is for ‘Immediate release’ or ‘Embargoed until X date’. Embargoed releases are useful for when you want the journalist to keep the story on hold until the date stipulated. It’s handy for product launches or events, for example. 'Immediate' speaks for itself.
4. Getting the right angle
Before you draft your release, think of the who, what, when, where, why and how. This will help you to structure your copy and ensure it flows nicely. Think of the news angle. Journalists will only publish your story if they think it’s newsworthy.
5. Consider the publication
Every newspaper and magazine has a different writing style or audience – consider adapting your press release to suit each one. For example, create a more 'local' news angle if you're targeting a regional newspaper, compared to a national title.
6. Keep it simple
Try to avoid repetition at all costs and keep sentences clear and concise. Don’t waffle.
Include a quote from a company spokesperson (or if you're a freelancer – just yourself) and use this area to repeat your key messages. Remember, your quote is the only part of your press release that the journalist can not change or edit, so use it wisely.
8. Factual is best
Stick to the facts and only allow any views or opinions to be included in a quote from a company spokesperson, not within the main body of the release.
9. The End
Signify the end of your press release with ‘ENDS’ and don’t forget to add some company information. This is background information for the journalist to consider. Include your website address.
10. Don't forget
Add on contact details for the media… i.e. ‘For media enquiries please call John Smith at The Business on 01234 56789 or email [email protected]'.