How to Write a Press Release

Do you know how to talk to the media and write a press release?  Sure you can pick up a phone, but if you really want to make the media sit up and take notice, you need to communicate with reporters the way they like best…with press releases.

What is a PressRelease?

A press release, also known as a news release, is a report about an event or activity. It is usually written in the third person and reports on behalf of an organization. A press release is typically issued by a public or private organization to “spin” information that may be of interest to the media or general public.

Press releases are distributed to journalists, editors and news directors who write stories that are released to the general public via newswires. Press releases can be used to provide information about new products, services, charitable campaigns and upcoming events or conferences.

Press releases are often used by companies to announce new products launching. A press release can focus on the product’s features, benefits and specifications while offering quotes from company executives on why the product is exciting.

The objective of a press release is to generate public interest in the story. One way to do this is by getting published in a variety of different sources such as newswires, newspapers, magazines and blogs. Press releases are usually free for distribution but carry some risk for companies because they can be inaccurate or biased if not prepared properly.

Why do I need a press release?

The objective of a press release is to generate public interest in the story. One way to do this is by getting published in a variety of different sources such as newswires, newspapers, magazines and blogs. Press releases are usually free for distribution but carry some risk for companies because they can be inaccurate or biased if not prepared properly.

A press release is a written announcement issued by a company to report newsworthy events. Press releases are usually issued by companies, governments and non profit organizations.

Press releases can be used for:

  1. Promoting a new product or service to the public
  2. Preparing the media for an event or announcement 3
  3. Disseminating information on behalf of another organization, person or entity
  4. Creating publicity for a cause or issue
  5. Market research and customer feedback
  6. Announcing the sale of a business or assets
  7. Providing information about an upcoming event, such as an election or annual meeting

The most common types of press releases include: media advisory, product launch, merger and acquisition, bankruptcy, corporate earnings, licensing agreement, new products and services, stockholder meeting and expansion announcement.

Types of Press Release

There are several types of releases, including:

  • An executive-appointment release announcing the appointment of someone to a new position. 
  • Community involvement releases that report sponsorship of events or get-togethers.
  • Industry forecasts that offer industry surveys and projections and prognosticate where your industry is going
  • Topical news release relating to trend or trends

The media is particularly interested in certain trends, and your products and services — no matter what they are, can tie into one of those trends.

What The Press Are Looking for?

Basic training

With a simple press release, you can entice print or broadcast media to spread the word about your business. However, unlike advertising, you can’t buy publicity, you have to earn it.  You have to provide a compelling answer to the all-important question of an editor or producer: 

Why would our readers or listeners be interested in you NOW?

A press release must contain four basic facts: Who, What, When and Where.  It should be so well-written, so media-friendly, so absolutely prêt-a-porter (ready to wear) that an editor needs to do nothing more than say, “Print it!”  

To accomplish that, follow these rules when sending out a release:

  • Double-spaced.
  • No typographical errors.
  • Include a dateline.
  • List a contact person with a phone number.
  • Avoid hype. Editors only want the facts.

The Press Does Not Owe You Anything!

The media makes a living by providing valuable news and information to its audience. Newspaper editors and TV’s managing editors are bombarded every day with news releases from all over the world that they have read, review, and consider for inclusion…consider for their readership. 

Some small business owners believe that if they write a press release that is newsworthy that there is an obligation on the part of the newspaper to publish it. Not only is this not true, but this kind of attitude can be detrimental to obtaining the coverage that you want.

The media is not an extension of your marketing department. But, if you are fortunate and savvy enough to have information of value that their readers may be interested in, you will at least attract their attention.  Editors are not ad sales people.  They’re journalists and they take pride in delivering unbiased coverage independent of outside influences. 

That said, many “hometown” papers will accept a “trade” for an advertising commitment — they’ll print your release if you buy their ads.  Take advantage of this practice as much as you can, just be careful not to approach the legitimate press with any type of bartering proposal. It may destroy your chances of getting your releases accepted now and in the future.

You Must Generate Real News

Generating news and information that people and the press will be interested in is not as difficult as it may sound. All you have to do is ask the question, “What does my target audience care about?” Asking this question will help to focus your thoughts and ideas. Conducting some research on a specific topic or question will help you get the answer.

Another easy way to develop content for your press release is to create a “swipe file” of related news articles. A swipe file is collection of other people’s creative work whether it’s news articles, newspaper and magazine ads or direct mailings.  Use your swipe file for is to get your creative juices flowing. I call this method “creative inspiration.” 

Don’t limit your swipe file to items related to your industry. Put any ad or direct mail piece in your swipe file that jumps out at you and catches your attention.  Even if you just find words that you like, or an image that hits you — put it in there.  On the other hand, 

Save the best pieces for your swipe file.  You can also consider creating a “Stinker File” for all the really bad ads you see.

Know How You’re Going to Handle the Reponses

Don’t send in a press release until you know how you’re going to handle the responses. What if your press release is a hit and you get over 1,000 responses?  Who at your company talks to the press?  Do you know how to handle 1,000+ requests for information?  This would be a good problem, but it’s still a problem in need of a solution.

Reporters and consumers live in a deadline-oriented world — they don’t want to wait for your response, they want it now!  Make it a practice to respond to press-generated inquiries in 24 hours or less.  You’d better strike while they’re hot for you because they cool down incredibly fast.  

A press release campaign provides incredibly effective image advertising for your business or profession.  It’s practically free it’s the way that small to medium-sized businesses can do big-sized image advertising without incurring the giant-sized expense of media advertising.

As you send out more and more releases (PR Web is a good place to start, or reach out to Creative PR Agency Abstract PR here ), getting more and more accomplished with each new effort, your community will become more and more aware of your services and you can generate prospective clients.

People spend years honing their skills in this area, so you’ll need to invest a little time and effort to get it right.  But here’s the good news Public relations literally allows you to EARN WHILE YOU LEARN.

How do I write a press release?

Step 1: Target audience

The first step in writing a press release is to identify your target audience. A press release is not written for the general public or every media outlet but rather for a specific group of journalists and news outlets that are interested in your type of business and in your product, service, or event.

Step 2: Press release structure

A press release is a type of announcement that is published in an online or offline newspaper or journal. It is used by companies to spread newsworthy information to the public. Press releases are also known as news releases, media releases, and PRs. They are generally distributed via e-mail or fax and can be found on the internet on news sites and business web sites. Press release writing has many similarities to other forms of writing. In general, press releases follow this structure:

1. Heading: The heading should include the name of your organization and a contact person. If you use first person in this section (such as “we”), make sure you use third person for the rest of the press release (for example, “the company”).

2. Lead: Start with a catchy lead that summarizes the main point of your announcement. The lead should grab attention and entice readers to read on.

3. Body: Use brief paragraphs to describe your announcement in detail, using statistics and specifics wherever possible to give journalists something they can quote in their articles.

4. Conclusion: Summarize key points in the first paragraph of this section, before listing additional resources such as contact details (web site, email address), product details (if appropriate), and

Step 3: Press release format

The third step to writing a press release is formatting. Press releases are typically organized in reverse chronological order, from most recent to oldest. The opening paragraph should detail the most recent news. The body of the release will usually contain information about the company and its history, details about the product or service being offered, and any additional comments or quotes from company executives if applicable.

Press releases should be submitted in either Microsoft Word or text format. Most news outlets prefer .doc or .docx formats.

Press releases should be as concise as possible, so only include essential information. Be sure to check spelling and grammar before sending out a press release to ensure maximum quality and professionalism.

Contact Name: Company Name Contact Phone Number: ______________ Date: ____________ Time: ____________ Central Standard Time (or Local) Event Title: Event Description: Event Location: Event Start Time: End Time: Event Leader Name (contact person): Contact Person Email Address: Contact Person Phone Number: Other Contacts (if applicable):

Step 4: Common mistakes when writing a press release

It is easy to get carried away with your PR and make it overly promotional. The press release should be clear, concise and to the point. Remember you are sending it to a journalist for their information, not in a hope that they will publish your press release word for word. In fact, the journalist publishing a direct copy of your press release is highly unlikely.

Step 5: Press release templates

Your press release should be concise, well-organized, and easy to read. Journalists are extremely busy people, and they don’t want to waste time reading long, rambling press releases that are poorly organized and hard to follow. Using the information you’ve gathered about your business and the industry it’s in, fill out this template :

Dateline: ____City/State______ Contact Information: ___________ (your name or company name) Contact Information: ___________ (phone number) Headline: ____Insert your news here____ Body: _______Insert your supporting facts and statistics_______ About our Company: _______________(Information about your company here) About our Product/Service:_______________(Information about the product or service you offer) Quotes: _______________(If necessary, you can use quotes from an expert source here) For more information contact_________________(name of person in charge of media relations) at (phone number).

If you want to be an effective PR writer, keep Prowly in mind. Here are some more resources created by Prowly to help you get your press release done:

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