Suppose that your business or organization has just purchased a new piece of equipment or has just launched a new service, and it’s time to get the word out. A multi-faceted approach usually works best. This might include taking out ads in newspapers or trade journals, sending out a direct-mail package or postcard, or utilizing social media. But one of the most effective methods is sending out a news release. Traditional printed press releases remain one of the best ways to get the news to the right audience, at the right time, very inexpensively.
When to Write a Press Release Press releases are meant to help news services do their job… getting relevant news and information to their subscribers in a timely manner. Before sending a press release to a news outlet, determine whether or not the news is truly relevant to its recipients. And make sure the news is still current. If it took place quite a while ago, or will not be happening in the near future, the release will be ignored.
A press release is an effective way to communicate a wide range of topics, including: • Launching a new product or service • Recognizing key employee achievements • Announcing the attainment of a goal • Redesigning a website • Creating a new app • Participating in an event • Establishing a new partnership • Sharing results of research • Receiving an award
A press release can also be used to generate a feature story. Reporters are more likely to consider a story idea if they first receive a press release. However, because journalists receive so many requests for coverage, to be successful the release needs to: • Have an eye-catching headline • Contain the who, what, when, where and why of the story • And be error-free and attractive
Write an Eye-catching Headline The headline, or title, should be an abbreviated version of the press release’s key point. Just as newspaper headlines are meant to grab readers, the title or headline of a press release also needs to be attention-getting.
The headline is typically in bold type and uses a larger font size than the body copy. Conventional press release headlines use the present tense and exclude articles such as “a” and “the”.
A common way to create the headline is to use several of the keywords from the body copy to create a relevant and interesting title. Likewise, use the same process if you plan to have a tagline that clarifies the purpose of the release. Plan on writing the headline several times before you create a satisfactory one.
The Body Copy and the 5 “W’s” The press release should be written just like you want it to appear in the news story. Reporters are very busy and don’t have time to research your company’s information, so typically what you write is what will be in the journalist’s version of your event.
Start with the date and city in which the press release originates. The first sentence should grab the reader’s attention and say precisely what the release is about. The body copy should be brief. The first paragraph should summarize the press release, and the following paragraphs should support it.
Communicate the 5 “W’s” very clearly. The who, what, when, where, and why should tell the reader everything they need to know:
• Who is this about? • What is the actual news? • When does this event happen? • Where does this take place? • Why is this news?
Once you have written the basic information, go back and fill in with more detail. The more newsworthy you make the press release copy, the better are its chances to be used.
Make it Error-Free and Attractive Because press releases are so inexpensive and effective, your submission will most likely be one of many that will be received by the news service. To make sure yours stands out, it needs to be error-free and have a very professional appearance.
Traditional hard copy press releases that are mailed or personally delivered must be on nice paper similar to your letterhead. Using letterhead is not recommended, but if you have second sheets that only have your logo on them, they can be used. Or if you plan on sending out quite a few releases, it would be desirable to have printed press release blanks that complement your letterhead.
When an editor looks at your story, she is first considering if it is appropriate for her audience, and then if it appears professional. So make sure you have: correct spelling; good grammar; it’s printed on nice paper; and all the major points are clearly covered. Reporters and editors will appreciate the fact that you’ve helped make them look better and will be watching for more releases from you in the future.
The Basic Structure Finally, it’s important to make sure everything in the release is organized correctly. • FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: should go at the top of the page, on the left margin. If it is not for immediate release, the date you would like it to be published should be clearly stated in the same location. • The headline: usually in bold, should be centered below that. If you plan to use a subhead or tagline, put it in italics right below the headline. • First paragraph: this is where the most important information must be located. Make sure to include all the key points here.
• Second and third paragraphs: this additional information should include the 5 “W’s”. This is also a good place to include quotes. • Boilerplate: place the information about your company underneath the body of your release. Describe your company or organization with five or six lines. Typically this would be the same type of introductory information that can be found in your company’s brochure or website. • Contact information: if your press release is newsworthy, reporters will like to contact some of the key individuals in your organization for more information or for quotes. This is where you include that appropriate contact information. This section should also contain the company’s official name and address; phone, fax and mobile numbers; and email and website addresses. • Other media: mention other ways to receive more information such as requesting a brochure or links to websites, Facebook pages, LinkedIn, blogs, twitter, etc.
Tie it Together Once you have completed the actual press release, think about what else you can provide that will be helpful to the journalist. Consider including a general brochure about the company, as well as a brochure that is specifically about the new product or service. A personal note is always a good idea, along with your business card. Provide internet links that support your press release. If you have additional information online that readers may find useful, make sure you include the exact address to the location on your website.
Remember, traditional printed press releases remain one of the best ways to get the news to the right audience, at the right time, very inexpensively. Let us know if you’d like us to help you make your next news release stand out, grab attention, and be more effective. To set an appointment, call one of our sales representatives today at 781-337-0002.