Do you have news to share but are uncertain about how to do so? Does the thought of writing a press release create more fear than anticipation? If so, this article will give you the information you need to write a great press release, giving your news a chance to shine. You can also check out our other PR tips article with some great ideas.
Press Release Definition
Let us begin by reviewing what a press release is — a statement prepared for distribution to the media. The purpose of a press release is to give journalists information that is useful, accurate and interesting. Get it? Useful, accurate and interesting, it really is that easy.
Press releases are actually pretty “cookie cutter." Once you get the hang of writing them, all you have to do is fill in the blanks, since press releases conform to an established format. Because journalists receive so many press releases every day, you must follow the style they expect (also known as “AP" or Associated Press style) just to have your release read, let alone published. If your press release is printed as is, without changing even one word, then you know you have follow the journalistic standards of that particular medium. “Write on," you’re doing a great job!
Press Release Format
Press releases should be printed on company letterhead. If this is not feasible, adding the company logo is essential. The company’s name, website, address and phone number should be printed clearly at the top of the page. PRESS RELEASE should be spelled out in all CAPS and centered in bold. The contact person’s name and contact information (email and phone number) should be included underneath. If the press release is for IMMEDIATE RELEASE, say so on the left margin directly above the title in all caps.
The next essential component of the press release is the Headline or Title. It should be centered, and in bold; it can also be one font size larger than the following text, so that it really stands out. The headline should capture the journalist’s attention: It should be relatively short and snappy, and draw interest so that journalists choose to read on.
The body of the press release is where you share your useful, accurate and interesting information. The body begins with the date and city where the press release originates.
It then includes the five “w"s of a press release: who, what, where, when and why. The first paragraph of the press release should dicuss in brief detail what the press release is about. The second paragraph explains: who cares; why you should care; where you can find it; when it will happen.
Follow that up with a quote that gives the release a personal touch. This lets the media know that they have a reliable source to talk to if they’re interested in following up, and it provides that human interest angle that can draw both media and readers’ interest. The last paragraph can summarize your news and be followed up with further information on your company, a paragraph known as the “boilerplate" which lists relevant information about your company and includes the website for more information.
The content of the press release, beginning with the date and city of origin, should be typed in a clear, basic font (Times New Roman, Arial, etc.) and double-spaced. If your press release exceeds one page, include “more" at the bottom of the first page and “Page 2" in the upper right-hand corner of the second page. Journalistic standards include the following to define the end of a press release: ###. Three # symbols, centered directly underneath the last line of the release indicate its close.
The next time you are tasked with writing a press release for your company, have no fear, the basic rules are clear: useful, accurate and interesting information portrayed within the set journalistic guidelines.
Press Release Examples
Here are some press release examples for different industries. Feel free to use them as you like, but you may not sell or redistribute them. If you would like to see an example from a different industry, please contact us.
Press Release Example
Media Press Release Example
Music / Artist Press Release Sample
Event Press Release Sample
New Product Press Release Example
Book Press Release Example
New Business Press Release Sample
A press release that was published verbatim by two local media outlets can be used as a reference to the materials outlined here.
- Company Letterhead, Name, Address, Phone Number, Web Address
- PRESS RELEASE in all caps
- Contact Person’s Name, Phone, Email
- Immediate Release or Release Date(all caps)
- HEADLINE or TITLE in BOLD/CAPS
- BODY-Date/City-Who, What, When, Where and Why.
- Catchy Text
- Sum it up…
- Boilerplate Paragraph about Your Organization
- Basic Font, Double Spaced, Page Numbers, and ### at end
- Action Plan/Calendar
If you want your news release to become news, an effective distribution plan is a must. First, determine who your target audience is – what readers/listeners/viewers do you want to reach? Think broadly: while a story in The New York Times is great, you might reach more people in your area through the local community newspaper and its website. Put together a file of appropriate contact people at newspapers, radio stations, TV stations and other organizations that would be a good fit. Make sure you email the right person, too: If you’re opening a new swim store in Miami, you will want to target the Miami Herald, but the editor in chief is probably not your best bet – find the retail reporter instead.
Websites and blogs also give your news the chance to really go viral. Email your news release to specialty bloggers who cover your subject, post a video link on YouTube and use free news release distribution sites online, too. Cover your bases.
When you send your news release out, let the media know why it’s relevant to them, how it impacts people in their area and where to go for more information. Keep it short, sweet and newsy, and you’ll have a great distribution plan.
A press release can spark interest, business, sales and participation and make a huge difference to your business. So, now you should know how to write a great press release. Good luck and write on!
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