How to write a press release
The press release is something all business professionals and entrepreneurs should know how to compose. To be successful, they need to follow a format, be concise, readable and without BS. In theory, it’s fairly easy to get the hang of the press release template. But in practice, judging by the many I am sent and encounter in my daily travels, it isn’t always easy.
Do you need to master the press release structure?
No, you don’t. You can always hire a copywriter like me to write them for you. But if you have a lot going on within your organization and require frequent press releases, you may not want to pay a scribe hundreds of your hard-earned dollars to do each one.
Thus, I offer my free press release template, gratis, and at no charge for you. I’ve also included links to press release samples later on in this article.
Its starts with the press release format
To create a killer press release that cuts through the Sargasso Sea of crap sent daily to media people, follow this basic format:
- Headline – Summarize the news in as few words as possible
- Opening subhead and paragraph – Subhead carries secondary point, while paragraph elaborates more on why the news matters and the context of it in the industry or current situation
- Body copy – 2-3 paragraphs including a quote from a senior person reiterating the significance of the announcement, the mechanics of a new service or offering, and/or upshot or industry significance
- Media links – Where people can get photos, videos and other information related to the announcement
- Contact info – The main contact details of your appropriate company representative, should recipients want additional info
Aw, you don’t like restrictive templates?
Well, I hate being limited to 10 mph in school zones. But I like running over inattentive children even less. The dude abides.
We all live by constraints. Limerick writers, hockey players, farmed fish – all must stay within boundaries, yet manage to live lives of relative comfort, even ease.
It is my considered opinion that anyone who can write in complete sentences can learn how to write a press release that slays.
Press release tips and standard practice
What are the characteristics of a well-drafted press release? They are official, formalized announcements generally of one letter-sized page max (not including images), formatted for attracting attention to some new, important or earth-shaking news to do with your organization.
It could be for a new product, advancement, hire, event, merger, award or business deal.
A neat thing about press releases is how they force their writers to be concise, stick to a few key facts, then get the hell out.
That’s the idea, anyway.
But many will give in to temptation to veer away from that simple formula, and no one reads their shoddy little press release, especially folks accustomed to receiving zillions of them.
It’s a press release jungle out there
Sure, we inhabit the overcrowded internet era. All the more opportunity for a tight press release to do triple duty. It will promote your organization, add to a living archive of important company information and, done right, help pump up your SEO.
The media is always looking for news. But you must make it easy for them to want to read your press release and translate it into their reporter’s format. This is done by feeding it to them in a most appetizing way.
Write in your target’s language
If you succeed at this, the media people you email it to will want to cite your press release or even lift entire sentences from it.
Others may not. But if they like the substance, they’ll write about it, and maybe even do some research of their own to add context to their story on you.
Here’s a detailed 4-step guide to the press release format
First: Write a short, catchy headline or subject line
An emailed press release, as most are distributed today, lives or dies by the pulling power of its subject line.
If your subject line sucks, your email will never even be seen.
To arrive at the quality, try writing a bunch of headers in different ways. Pick the three best, then try to edit out every unnecessary word from them without leaving a heap of rubbish.
Make it heavy with keywords, nouns and verbs, light with everything else. But readable as hell.
Make the subject line similar but shorter than the headline atop the press release itself.
Ask yourself if you’d read on. Don’t BS yourself with the answer.
Second: Cut to the chase
Summarize your news in the first paragraph. And make that paragraph no more than a few sentences, preferably of different length.
Third: Body text – make it matter to them
Ask yourself: What’s going on? Why should (recipient) care? Why today?
Organize and compress your thoughts. Think in terms of who, what, when, where, why and how. Tell the reader everything they need to know about your news, what it means today, in the future, and to customers and your industry.
De-fluff it with all your might.
Fourth: Tie it all together
Where possible, add links to photos, videos and other supporting materials, or positive quotes/reviews from third-parties or neutral parties that support your press release claims.
Try it on disinterested people
Show your draft to people who neither have to kiss your ass or are prone to kicking it. That’ll give you a gauge of your press release’s true power and whether you’ve learned how to write a press release or not.