Top ten tips for writing a press release

Writing press releases is second nature to those of us who work in PR. It’s one of those ‘bread and butter’ tasks that I offer as part of my services.

I know from my conversations with journalists, however, that they receive many, many releases that are poorly written every single day. Journalists have hundreds – sometimes thousands – of releases to sift through. If yours is poor, you can be sure it’ll be among the first to end up in the trash can.

Read my top ten tips!

So I thought I would share with you my top ten tips for writing a press release. Follow these and hopefully your chances of being published will increase substantially ……

  1. Before starting your release, think about your story. You must have something newsworthy to say. This sounds obvious, but is often overlooked. Launching a new product or service is rarely a good enough news story by itself. Unless it’s particularly original or uses innovative new technology, the editor will probably suggest you book an advertisement!
  2. Make sure you know the target publication and its readership before you start your press release. Only then will you be able to pitch your release correctly. Again, you’d be surprised how many people send to publications they’ve never read or researched and then are surprised when their story doesn’t get used.
  3. Your release title should be eye catching and succinct and give the editor an idea of what the story is about. Avoid the temptation to write anything too clever or witty. Your aim at this point is to interest the editor, not to write their headlines for them.
  4. The first paragraph of the release should include all of the important details. It should answer the ‘W’ questions: who, when, what, why and where. The editor should be able to use this as a standalone short piece in their publication.
  5. After this first paragraph, you can then provide further information about your news story. The information should be factual and accurate. Puff or exaggerated statements should be avoided. Prioritise your information by including the most important facts and figures first. Avoid opinion and hyperbole at all costs.
  6. Editors often like to personalise their news stories by including a quote from someone connected with the story. To make their life easier, add a quote in the press release from a senior member of your team. This can be much more personal and opinionated than other sections of the release. However, don’t overdo it and don’t use it as an opportunity to put down your competition.
  7. A picture says a thousand words. Many newspapers and journals no longer employ staff photographers. If you can, provide a good quality picture to accompany your story. Check you have permission to use the image and, if appropriate, ask the publication to credit the photographer. Make sure everyone pictured has agreed to be included in publicity and tell the editor who they are.
  8. Don’t forget to date the press release and provide contact details for a person to call if the editor has any queries. Make sure that the person named is actually available. Again, sounds obvious, but it’s not unusual for someone to put their name down and then disappear on holiday for two weeks.
  9. Include Editor’s notes to provide further details about something mentioned in the release. You can also add information here about your business, its history and mission.
  10. Before submitting, check your release carefully for spelling or grammatical errors. If you can, ask someone else to check it too.

I hope you find these tips useful. Please let me know or submit a question below.

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