Press release writing follows a basic template every time you write a new release. However, writing a press release is more than just plugging in basic information. You need to understand some fundamentals of what makes a press release a press release in the first place. You can improve your press release writing, and the results they achieve, by following these tips:
1. Do Something Newsworthy – You should only ever send out a press release to the media if you’ve actually done something worth mentioning. Some examples of things worth writing a press release about are: making a charitable contribution, setting up a new company website, launching a new product or service, and hosting an event.
2. Cover the Basics – In the very first paragraph of the body of your press release, always cover the who, what, when, where, and why questions about whatever you’re trying to gain publicity for. You can expand into more details further down in the body. Keep the first paragraph short and to the point.
3. Use Bold Headlines – While some people prefer to write a press release headline, or title, in all caps, it’s become better to stick with bold type instead. The reason for this is that many individuals and companies are distributing their press releases over distribution sites, or newswires. Many of those press release distribution sites don’t allow you to use all caps for your headline. It’s better to adapt to a system that will work no matter how you choose to distribute a specific release, than to have to create two copies: one for manual distribution, and one for the wires.
4. Carefully Target Your Distribution – Targeted distribution will usually win hands down over mass press release distribution outlets. Find specific media contacts in media outlets that would have a particular interest in the topic of your release, and you’ll likely have a much better response rate.
5. Don’t Forget Your Contact Info – Forgetting to include contact information while writing a press release is quite possibly the biggest mistake you can make. If you don’t take the time to tell members of the media where they can find more information, don’t count on them being interested in your story.
6. Forget the Ad Copy – A press release is meant to be informational in nature, not a sales pitch. Make it read like a short news story that you might find in a newspaper, and not like the marketing copy you’d find on your brochures or your website. Some press release distribution sites will even completely reject your press release if you submit a sales pitch. Stick to the facts. Listing stats on a new product is one thing. Saying it’s “great,” “better than the rest,” or using other adjectives can defeat the purpose of a press release.
7. Write for Your Audience – Write for the audience that you’re trying to reach with your release. Don’t use technical jargon or buzzwords that might throw off the person receiving your press release.
8. Use Your Company Letterhead – You should always send your press releases on your company letterhead (or with a full signature if they are submitted via email). The reason for this is simple: you want the media to know who’s sending the release! While a contact name is great, the media should see your release and instantly know what company has sent it to them.
9. Find Specific Media Contacts – It’s not enough to hand pick the media outlets to receive your release. You also need to do some research to find out the best reporter or editor for your content. Sending your press release to a newspaper’s general fax number, when you intended for it to go directly to the Entertainment Editor, could mean that your release will be lost and never received by the editor, or that it will show up on their desk too late for it to still be considered newsworthy.
10. Proofread! – After you’ve written your new press release, be sure to proofread it! Aside from not including your contact info, having incorrect spellings and poor grammar are the worst mistakes you can make. Sloppy writing won’t get your press release anywhere but in the trash.