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March 01, 2016
If you are looking to craft a press release, especially if you have never done so before, it may seem like a daunting task. The good news is that after you have written a few, you will become familiar with the flow of a good press release.
Let's start by going over the very basics of a press release. Technically speaking, anything that is sent to a media source or reporter for the purpose of getting publicity or editorial coverage is viewed as a press release. Over the years, the PR profession has developed a set of standards for writing press releases that make the process more efficient and boost their chances of achieving the publicity they are seeking.
By adhering to a standard press release format, you will enable journalists to differentiate your press release from other types of communication. The main elements of your press release are a headline, (sometimes a sub-head or introduction), dateline, body, boilerplate, close and finally, media contact information.
The headline is imperative--you must grab the attention of the journalists. The dateline is where information on the release date, combined with the originating city of the press release is contained. Generally, you should set the date of the release to be the day you release it (distribute it) to the media. In some instances, you may want to distribute the press release early--well before you want the media to report about it. This gives the media time to prepare their story but encourages them to wait until you want it published. When you want them to wait, you should set the dateline of the release to be some date in the future. This is called a "news embargo." Although not an obligation for journalists to honor, most will do so because if they publish a press release prior to the date of request, they risk losing trust and putting themselves in a negative spotlight with the source. This could have future ramifications down the road for future press releases. So most journalists will honor an embargo.
After you write the dateline, the introductory one or two paragraphs of the release should focus on the most important information: who, what, when, where and why. We call these the "five W's."
After the introductory paragraph or two, you should then then fill in more information in the subsequent paragraphs, called the "body" of the release. The body provides further information about the topic of your release. You can include background information, statistical information, or any other news and information about the topic of your release.
The element which concludes the release is the boilerplate. This element should be kept to one or two paragraphs and provides standard information about the business submitting the press release. Many companies use the same boilerplate content for many releases. You should make sure to keep the boilerplate information current, however, so the information in it will be accurate. When you reach the end of your boilerplate, you should create a paragraph break (line break) and then key in the following symbol: ###. The ### signifies the end of the story. Journalists like this so they will be sure that they've reached the end and there aren't any missing pages.
The final element of your press release should be your media contact info. This is the contact information of the person or company that the journalist should contact if he or she has questions or needs additional information. You should write the words "media contact:" and then the name, title and contact information of the person or persons you designate as your media contact. Be sure to include the phone number and email address of your media contacts.
Now that you're clear about the elements of a press release, let's switch our focus to the style of the release. Press release style has drastically changed over time. Prior to the Internet, the press release used to have basic points and information about the issuing company. The styule of today has been influenced by the internet and other changes in journalism. The most notable changes is that now, many press releases are written as a finished article or feature story rather than in the straightforward, facts-only style of the past. The goal of the modern press release is to engage the journalist so that he or she will be motivated to cover the story and share it with the audience. It should be interesting and a story to which the journalist, and hence the journalist's audience, can relate.
Although four to five paragraphs with a word limit of between 400 - 500 is acceptable, we at 24-7 Press Release Newswire recommend keeping the length of the release down to 350 - 450 words. Many people today don't like long reads, so to help your release be competitive with other releases, keep its length down. It may force you to get to the point more quickly,you're your efficient use of words will help you engage the journalists and their audience.
Even more recently, we have seen another change in the type of press release being distributed. Some of these styles include the 'content marketing' approach (which we have mentioned in previous articles, like Content Marketing and Your Press Release. Is it a Strategy or a Gimmick and Tailor Your Content Marketing Strategy to Retain Your Existing Customers.
Two other styles worth noting include your general type news and announcements. Typically, these are related to product launches, or even people announcements.
Including all of the correct elements, combined with using a style that will engage journalists and their audience, will go a long way toward ensuring you will effectively communicate your message. 24-7 Press Release Newswire can help you distribute your story through any of our excellent distribution packages here, once you have your story.