What is a press release?
A press release is a document that is written for journalists to give them information. It contains a date, contact details and is usually emailed out to the media. Bigger companies use specific software to distribute the press release quickly. The goal of the press release is that the journalist will ‘run’ with your story and print it in a newspaper, produce a radio feature and so on.
A press release gives a business, individual or charity the opportunity to tell the public about a new product, event or even a new employee. It will help to boost your profile and gain you new clients.
The release can be written by you, a PR agency, or a freelancer and should be written in a way that makes it immediately ready for broadcast so the message reaches your audience without being altered.
The golden rules for a press release are to ask yourself ‘who, what, why, where, when’ and to answer all these questions throughout.
Tips for writing a professional press release:
- Include the date of the release, company name, contact name and number and your logo.
- Make sure your headline is short and catchy and avoid clichés – this is the first thing the journalist will see and you want them to keep reading
- Get your main news points across in the first paragraph
- Use a journalistic style with short sentences and always write in the third person never ‘we’ or ‘I’ – have a look at a newspaper to get some tips on their writing style
- Be objective and don’t lift copy directly from your website
- Make sure you spell names and places correctly
- When using facts make sure you document them correctly and use reliable sources (remember to credit the source where appropriate)
- Give a quote from a relevant person – this is the only thing a journalist can’t change so make sure you use it to present strong, key facts
- Use correct grammar and punctuation. This not only gives you and your company a good reputation it will make sure the copy is ‘ready to publish’ saving the journalist time and make them more likely to use your releases in the future
- In the Note to Editors give information about any media interview opportunities
- Include a photo if appropriate
- Read, read and re-read to make sure you’ve made no mistakes – get someone else to take a look at the release for you, a fresh eye always helps
Once I’ve sent a press release I tend to follow up with a phone call the day after. Journalists are very busy and can often miss the PR so make sure when you ring you keep the conversation short and to the point. This phone call will also help to build your relationship with each journalist which is key to getting your future press release successfully published.
If you would like me to write a press release for you or take a look at one you have written and offer my advice then please contact me: