Have you ever tried writing a press release?
It can be a daunting (and stressful) experience — even for the most seasoned writer.
If you’re anything like me, you probably get nervous trying to stick to the “less is more” approach when it comes to writing. However, when writing press releases, brevity and a call to action are very important — and there’s no room for fluff!
Basically, writing a press release requires a certain level of skill that challenges you to:
- Use a specific format that most press releases follow.
- State the facts in a brief but effective way.
- Promote the press release.
While press release writing may be different from writing articles or blogs, there’s no reason that you can’t compose a successful press release that can get your business, event, or website more publicity.
So before you get started, here are 3 things you need to know in order to properly write and distribute a press release:
#1 – The Best Format For A Press Release
The very first line of your press release should almost always be ‘FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE.’
Your headline — the most important part of your press release — should come next. The headline states all the important information in one factual sentence.
If your headline is uninteresting, the chances are good that most news organizations won’t read any further.
After the headline, here are some good formatting ideas:
- Put in a few lines about the who, what, where, and when of what you’re publicizing. Typically, the location and date are listed first, followed by a dash to indicate the beginning of the first paragraph. (see “Boston, MA -” in this example)
- The first paragraph should reiterate the information contained in the headline.
- In the following 2 or 3 paragraphs (remember, you want to keep it relatively short), state more details.
- End with the hours, location, number to call with questions, and your website/social media info.
Check out the basic format of a press release.
#2 – What Your Press Release Needs To Say
The point of a press release, if you don’t already know, is to bring your business, event, website, etc. more attention.
You can write a press release about almost anything that sounds like it could be news. Even if your press release doesn’t become a news story — it can still be a useful marketing tool online.
This online presence makes the content in your press release even more important. Well-written content increases your chances of being found by search engines and, ultimately, generates more traffic to your website.
The content of your press release is just as important as the format. It should be factual and business-like. You want it to sound like news — not like a sales pitch.
A few things to keep in mind when writing press releases:
- Get to the point – If the point of your press release is to inform the public that your new art gallery will be opening soon, there’s no need to add details about the owner’s past or historical details about the building.
- Be specific – Write about when the gallery is opening, what type of art will be on display, and a brief explanation of how artists can submit work to the gallery.
- Keep it simple – Let the reporter decide if any further information is necessary.
A press release should basically sum up all the facts.
#3 – How To Distribute Your Press Release
You can have the best, most exciting press release ever written — but if it’s sent out to the wrong places, to the wrong people, or at the wrong times, it won’t matter how awesome your press release is.
If you haven’t hired a PR person to do the legwork for you, then be prepared to do some research. Which news organizations are the most likely to be sympathetic to your cause?
Here’s what you need to consider about press release distribution:
- When would your press release be noticed, or even needed? Small papers and local TV stations may be searching for stories during the middle of the week, while the weekend is likely to bring a flood of more newsworthy releases to the editors’ desks.
- Which venues would reach your targeted audience most effectively? Gone are the days when you can take the traditional route of mailing (or emailing) it to a newspaper or news station and hope it works.
Distribute the release via a wire service like Business Wire and PRWeb or PRNewswire. If you distribute the same release through more than one wire service on the same day, it is very likely that the news search engines will filter out the duplicates. If your story has more than one angle, take advantage of that and mix it up. Source
A few more tips about press release distribution:
- Use Twitter – do a little research and make a list of several key journalists who write about your field — both locally and nationally. Follow them on Twitter. Share their content. Comment on their articles.
- Try email pitching – a quick Google search usually a good way to find most email addresses.
- Submit tips to websites – a great idea when you can’t find a direct reporter to pitch, but the outlet is relevant.
- Use the phone – but only if you know the reporter already, because nobody likes getting sales calls from strangers (especially busy journalists on deadline).
- Try snail mail – if you’re launching a physical product and want to ask for reviews; physical addresses for all major outlets are easy to find.
Here are some of the best paid and free online press release outlets.
Get creative with your press release, and don’t hesitate to hire a public relations professional to help you out.
If you have something newsworthy to write about, it can only help to write about it – even if it doesn’t make it into the news.
More Helpful Tips For Writing A Press Release
In addition to the links I’ve included above, here are some other great resources about writing and distributing press releases:
- 5 Things People Do Wrong When Writing Press Releases
- Style Guide For Writing A Press Release
- Who Should Write Your Press Release?
- How To Hire Someone To Write Your Press Release
- Write A Funny Press Release – It Could Go Viral!