A press release is a written statement to the media. It can announce a range of news items, including scheduled events, personal promotions, awards, new products and services, sales accomplishments, etc. It can also be used to generate a feature story. Reporters are more likely to consider a story idea if they first receive a press release. It is a fundamental tool of PR work, one that anyone who’s willing to use the proper format can use. We’ll show you how.
Write a catchy headline: It should be brief, clear and to the point: an ultra-compact version of the press release’s key point. Plenty of PR professionals recommend writing your headline at the end, after the rest of the release is written. If you follow that instruction, continue on and come back to writing the headline once the rest is done. The headline is known as the eye-catcher and is very important to the whole release.
Write the body copy: The press release should be written as you want it to appear in a news story. And remember this: most journalists are very busy, and don’t have time to research your company’s big announcement, so much of what you write for your press release will be what the journalists use in their writeup of your big event. Whatever you want them to say, this is where you put it.
Communicate the “5 W’s” (and the H) clearly. Who, what, when, where, why and how, should tell the reader everything they need to know. Consider the checklist in context with the points below, using the example above to generate our press release:
- Who is this about?
- What is the actual news?
- When does this even happen?
- Where does this even take place?
- Why this is news?
- How is this happening?
The more newsworthy you make the press release copy, the better the chances of it being selected by a journalist for reporting. Find out what “newsworthy” means to a given market and use this knowledge to hook the editor or reporter.
When an editor looks at your piece, he/she is thinking, from the first second, about how long it’s going to take them to get it to print. If your work is full of errors, lacking content, or just needs to be revived, they’re not going to waste their time. So make sure you have good grammar, all the basics, and have something to write about.
Below are examples of Press Release formats: