Press Release Writing

Press Releases Are On The Rise. Use Our Free Press Release Tool

Business owners want to share their news again and are doing so through a variety of free digital portals that are available. However, the amount of exposure you can get from a Press Release depends on how well the release is written and where/how you publish it.

However, for a Press Release that’s so hot you want the whole media to know about it, you will probably have to go down the paid distribution route in order to guarantee the right kind of exposure (unless you have your own database of journalists and news desks).

Our Press Release Wire service has been made available for this purpose. We check and rewrite your document (if necessary), then digitally publish your Press Release to thousands of industry specific key journalists and media outlet news desks.

How do I make journalists pay attention to my Press Release?
Every PR practitioner asks this question. When looking for the answer to journalistic attention, PR practitioners need to ask themselves a few questions before writing the release;

Before you Begin:

1. Is this newsworthy?

This is the first and major question. The information has to interest the press and the rest of your targeted audience or else your efforts will be wasted. The following are typical items announced via news releases:

• New product/service
• Improvements or expansion of products/services
• Noteworthy new accounts
• Organisation/staff changes
• Quarterly earnings
• Achievements by company or personnel
• Information resources
• Response to a controversy or crisis
• Special events
• Charitable donations
• Awards won/given
• Giveaways or promotions
• Research findings
• Human interest stories Different items will appeal to different segments of the press and public, so choose the media outlet carefully.

2. What’s the purpose of a Press Release?

This question sounds obvious, but at times people issue releases without a clear goal in mind. Knowing your objective upfront gives your writing focus and helps in the selection of distribution channels.

Setting goals also aids in tracking and measuring the overall effectiveness of your strategies. Below is a mixture of short and long-term goals.

• Increase or maintain awareness
• Establish credibility or authority; build image
• Get interviews on television, radio, Internet
• Become an expert source • Promote sales
• Drive traffic to a special event or website
• Change buyer/industry behaviour • Expand market share

Whilst Writing and Editing the Release:

3. Is it news or a feature?

The news style follows the conventional newspaper approach, summarising the story’s who, what, why, when, where (and often how) in the first paragraph. A feature story Press Release resembles a magazine article and is written in a more entertaining manner. The feature often sets the tone and background before introducing the main topic.

4. Is the formatting and style appropriate?

There are several ways to format a release, and as long as you follow a few general rules, you should be fine.

• Use one side of A4 paper or approximately 400 words of copy
• Copy should be 1.5 line spacing
• Include release date or “For Immediate Release”
• Put contact information at the beginning or the end of the release
• Add a boilerplate (about the organisation/product/individual) section at the end of the story
• End the release with ‘END’ or “###”

When it comes to spelling, punctuation and so on, most writers follow the style guidelines of the Associated Press. There are other stylebooks available or you can use a ‘house’ style sheet. Whatever you choose to follow, be consistent.

Note: Why not use our free online Press Release tool to format and publish your releases.

5. Does it answer the relevant questions?

Some practitioners advocate that releases be written as a complete article, citing the tendency of editors to use stories verbatim. Others state that the release should only outline the story since reputable publications will contact the company. We think the best approach is to include enough information to allow a busy editor to use it without having to telephone you for more information. Write the story in pyramid news style, so less essential information is towards the end.

6. Is it concise?

News writers and editors take about five seconds to decide whether or not to use your release. Go long on facts and short on adjectives. Use short paragraphs for easy scanning. Also use subheadings on long or complex copy so readers can grasp your meaning at a glance. If your release is three or more pages, consider transferring some of the information to an accompanying fact sheet.

7. Is there adequate attribution?

Anything that can be considered subjective, such as opinions or grand claims should be credited to an executive in a quote.

8. Does it need a sample or photo?

Including images gives your release greater impact. The photo caption should also explain the who, where, when, why and what of the picture.

After Writing the Release:

9. Has it been reviewed and approved?

Bigger businesses usually have a series of executives who have to review the release copy before it goes to the press. Ideally, the number of reviewers should not be too long (in order to maintain timeliness), and a process that indicates who has already reviewed the copy (such as dated initials) should be established. If you’re a small business owner, it is a good idea to have someone else proofread your copy.

10. To whom do I make follow up calls?

With the proliferation of media outlets, it is virtually impossible to contact each one about your release. Make an A-list of outlets that you think would be highly interested in your story and could give you optimum exposure. Utilising a methodical approach to questioning whenever a new Press Release is being created will leave you worry free to ponder other issues like whether you should create video news releases or audio? How do you build on the success of the release? All good topics for a follow up post…


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