An engaging press release with an interesting ‘hook’ or angle is an excellent way to gain exposure for your product or service and can lead to media interviews with appearances on television and radio stations, and in newspapers or magazines. The objective of a release is to capture the attention of your audience, whether this is your home town, state, province, country or international market, and educate them about your product or service.
We cannot stress enough the importance of a well written press release. We constantly come across inaccurate, poorly written or unedited press releases that simply will not be read. They become a waste of time to journalists who are already bogged down with information overload. And some releases are just not publishable.
So our advice? Write a strong, well written press release and edit before submitting it. The following topics will help you with writing your press release:
Section 1 – Press Release Format
There is a general format for writing all press releases. To format a release correctly and most effectively, you will need to include the following:
Date Instructions: “For Immediate Release”, “For Release Before (date)”, or “For Release After (date)”. Many online distribution services simply ask you to insert a date in the date line or select one from a calendar.
Contact information: Make it easy for the media to contact you about your story by including as much information as possible. It is important to include a phone number, fax number, email address and company address. Failing to leave this information suggests that your press release is either amateurish or illegitimate. Media contacts will ask: “Why don’t they want to be contacted? What do they have to hide?”
Headline: Your headline must ‘hook’ the reader into wanting to read your full release. You may have a fantastic press release. However, failing to write a strong headline will jeopardize your entire release. It will be overlooked and passed by in favor of a release with a more interesting or exciting or controversial headline. So make your headline an attention grabber.
Sell the benefits of your product or service within your headline:
Losing Weight Is Easy If You Follow These Simple Rules
Or ask a question:
Want to Lose Weight the Easy Way?
These headlines draw a reader into the story, simply because they want to know how to solve a particular problem or they want to know the answer to the question.
Summary: This is a sentence or short paragraph that follows your headline. Here is where you continue to draw the media into your story by summarizing the information in your press release with a strong statement or two to keep the reader interested. But don’t give them everything. You still want them to read the entire release.
Body: This is the main area of your press release. Keep it simple, to the point and brief, 175 – 300 words. Use bullets when appropriate and clear, crisp paragraphs for easy reading. Your press release is meant to entice the media to contact you for further information, so encourage the reader to contact you and visit your web site.
About Us/Boiler Plate: Not everyone uses a boiler plate. However, this is the perfect place to add some brief information about your company. (i.e., “XYZ Company is a leading distributor of widgets and has been in the business of building widgets since 1900.”)
End of Press Release: To end your press release, simply enter ### on a blank line at the end of the release. Any information after ### will not be published.
Section 2 – Newsworthiness: What May Seem Like News…
Do you really have a newsworthy story to tell, or are you writing your press release just to throw your name out into the masses, in hopes that someone will read your pointless information? If so, then stop. Do not send a release out for the sake of just sending one. If you submit a press release with information that is not of interest to the public―and worse yet, continue to do this―you will eventually alienate your media contacts. When your company’s name or your name is seen, it will be ignored. Make sure your press releases contain valuable information. Make every word count!
Do you have a compelling, important story to tell? Write about a new service you are offering that is unique from your competition. Or use a personal human interest angle and show how your product is helping others. Write about a new Fortune 500 company manager that is now on board with you. Or write about the benefits of your service.
Write a press release that is newsworthy. Can you time your press release with a current event, time of year or holiday? If so, then your story will have a hook for journalists. Use it.
Ask yourself these questions:
• Who benefits from my product or service?
• What new or unique bit of information can I hook readers with?
• Where will my release make the best impact?which country, state, city?
• When is the best time to release this information?
• Why should a reader care about my product, service or information?
• How can I hook them?
What may seem like news to you may not be of any interest to the general public, or the media. Ensure that when you write your press release that you have something to write about. Look for a way to make your release unique. A release is a story, so tell it wisely and grab the attention of the general public.
Section 3 – Target the Media
Who is your audience? Who needs to hear your story, your news? In a perfect world, everyone would read your press release. To accomplish this, you must achieve ‘second level exposure’.
• First level exposure - have someone else distribute the information for you through press release distribution, such as 24-7pressrelease.com.
• Second level exposure - the media picks up your story, calls you, or simply modifies it for their own use. An exceptional press release will be picked up by journalists for publication on web sites, in trade publications and on radio or television.
Although first level exposure is always good, second level exposure is where you will ultimately reap the benefits of obtaining customers or getting their attention. You will have a better chance of gaining second level exposure if you write your press release while keeping the media in mind. These are the individuals that will publish your release elsewhere, if they like it.
Keeping your press release unique, to the point, professional, easy to read and grammatically correct will enhance your chances of someone from the media picking up your story.
Section 4 – Content is Key: Start Strong and Sell the Benefits
As mentioned in Section 1, your press release should have a strong, catchy headline and summary. Next, ensure that the first paragraph answers some of the important questions, such as Who, What, When, Where and Why. Use one or two statistics here, as long as you do not go overboard. Remember: these first elements must grab the reader and make them interested in learning more, or you will lose potential media support and that second level exposure.
The point of a release is to entice the reader or journalist to contact you for further information. You do not need to reveal your company’s entire history. A well written press release does not need to be a novel. In fact, shorter press releases (usually between 175 – 300 words) tend to receive more exposure, if written well. Why? Because many trade publication journalists may be looking for a short informative piece of information to fill a spot within a magazine, newspaper or web site. Have you ever seen short snip-its on one side of a magazine, or down the side of a web page? Guess where the information comes from?
We cannot stress enough the importance of a well written press release. The content within your press release should be accurate, easy to read, to the point and interesting to your target audience. And a carefully written and informative press release will be sure to capture the eyes of journalists.
Section 5 – Language & Wording: Do Not Embellish or Exaggerate
An effective press release is one that anyone can understand.
Your goal is to communicate your news using everyday language, so avoid overusing technical jargon. Not everyone understands your industry terminology as well as you do. Excess jargon will confuse your reader and may be enough for a journalist to pass over your release for one that is easier to understand. Leave the technical details for the phone call or follow up email. Once an editor contacts you, you might then give an interview or go into more depth on your particular topic. Chances are the editor will be more familiar with your industry, since he has taken the time to contact you.
Avoid flowery language, redundant expressions and unnecessary adjectives. These will detract from your story. And do not embellish or exaggerate your press release. If your release is written with embellishments, you will very quickly lose credibility. Keep in mind that this loss of credibility will carry over to future releases. Journalists will remember a source. They will remember a name. They will remember a web site. If you leave a bad taste in their mouth, they will remember the experience. This means the next time you submit a press release, which may be accurate the second time around, it will not be looked at because the journalist will remember you as someone who embellishes your press releases.
Section 6 – Quote Permissions & Attributions
When writing your press release, you may want to quote something someone has said or something you have read. Having permission to use a quote is extremely important, especially if it is longer than one short sentence or if it could be taken in a negative way. If you want to quote something you have read (copyrighted information) within your press release and do not attain written permission to use this information, you may be held liable and a lawsuit may result, something no company wants. If you personally know the individual, verbal permission may be all that is required. If you are unsure, it is best to receive permission in writing.
An attribution is simply the acknowledgement or credit of your source of information or of the quote. Most well written press releases use attributions. When quoting copyrighted material, be sure to state the source of the quote, including the date or a link. Be sure to include the full name of the individual who made the quote and their occupational title or company position.
If you are using facts and statistics to enhance your story, make sure that you provide source attributions. The reason for this is simple. It adds credibility. If you publish figures or information without a viable source reference, people might assume “it must be too good to be true”, even though your information may be accurate. Without proper source attributions, your information may appear to be stretching the truth, and this could lead to your press release being overlooked.
“XYZ is to raise rates” and XYZ Corporation will capitalize on this.
In the above example, there is no attribution. The example does not state who made the quote, or who is commenting on the quote or their position. This also lacks source and date information.
“XYZ is to raise rates and this is something we will capitalize on,” stated John Doe, marketing manager of XYZ Corporation, in the February 1, 2004 edition of the Sun Newspaper.
In this example, the source, name and position of the person making the comment is clearly stated and does not leave the reader wondering about the credibility of the press release.
Section 7 – What Not to Include in Your Press Release
• Do you have a story to read like an advertisement.
• Do not include your entire company history.
• Do not submit your hook and read your press release if it is geared toward illegal activity, stock promotion (unless you are a registered member of the NASD with a registration number), personal attacks, racism, discrimination or terrorism.
• Do not continually submit the same press release or a slightly modified version of the original. If your press release was not picked up or you did not receive any enquiries the first time, find a fresh, new angle to write about.
Section 8 – Images in Your Press Release
Imagine your local newspaper with no image on the front page, just straight text. Try to picture People magazine with no images of your favorite celebrities. How interested would you be in reading these?
Images get attention, and they are worth more than words. That is why magazines are so popular. Adding images within a press release increases the readability of your release. They are a great way to display your company’s logo or your products. Think of it as a method of branding.
At 24-7PressRelease.com, we allow you to attach images to your press release at the $49 payment level. When selecting our Mass Media Distribution program, we are unable to attach an image directly to the press release for distribution, but rather we include a link to your image on our site.
Section 9 – Edit Your Release before Submitting It
A poorly written press release will be a very fast turn off for any journalist or editor and will reflect negatively on a company or individual. Although some of the best writers will occasionally miss grammatical errors or typos, by making sure you read, edit and re-edit your press release, you drastically reduce the chance for error.
Here is a quick checklist for editing:
• Use a program like MS Word to write your press release so that you can spell check and grammar check automatically. But remember, these tools are not foolproof.
• Carefully edit your release, line by line.
• Read your release out loud and re-edit.
• Print your press release. By printing your press release and reading a paper copy, you are more likely to catch errors, especially in longer press releases.
• Have a coworker or friend review your press release. Sometimes another set of eyes will catch errors you’ve missed or inadvertently tuned out.
• Wait until the morning and re-read your press release. You would not believe what a difference a night of sleep can do for you when you are writing.
If everything reads well and there are no errors, submit your press release for distribution.
24-7 Press Release Distribution Newswire is currently working with a couple of editors to be able to offer the writing service or editing service for your press release. Although this feature is not currently available, we are working on this for you.
Section 10 – How Often Should You Submit Your Press Release?
The general ‘rule of thumb’ is once to twice a month. However, if you do not have any news worth mentioning, then once a month is acceptable. Most companies have something worth writing about each month. Companies often go through changes in management, products, services or other changes.
Are you hiring some new executive from a Fortune 500 company? Have you imported some new widget that no one else has? Do you have a new product that the public needs to know about? Do you have a hot new service? Or one you plan to offer in the future? These are just a few ideas to keep in mind.
As long as you have a story to tell that is interesting to the general public and to editors and journalists, a press release may also be viewed as a way of brand marketing. People will begin to recognize your company name in the news. And once you impress an editor or journalist, they will look for your releases.
Although a new company on a shoestring budget may find a press release expensive, in the grand scale of marketing, the investment in a well distributed release can really pay off. This type of marketing may reach further than any other type of advertising.
Section 11 – Our Distribution Packages and Pricing
At 24-7 Press Release Newswire, distribution is also sent to opt-in feed subscribers that pull our headlines to use as content on their web sites. When our headlines are updated, their headlines are also updated.
Part of our successful press distribution is attributed to our partnership with PR Newswire.
View our list of press release distribution options and prices
Section 12 – Start Writing Your Release Now!
What are you waiting for? We recommend you write your press release using a program like Microsoft Word first. That way you can check spelling and grammar. Don’t forget to write a gripping headline and first paragraph. Then edit before submitting. Save your release to your computer for future reference. Once you’ve copied your release to our press release submission page, you can add links, italics and bold.