How to Write a Press Release: Part 1
Welcome back again! Hopefully, you now have a good idea of exactly which journalists you want to be talking to and how you want to be talking to them. It’s a true sentiment that you don’t necessarily need a press release to get your story across, but I would always recommend drafting one.
Why Do You Need It?
Drafting a press release helps you shape your own story and get all the facts and context around your story in one place. It may be that the press release becomes more of a background document than used to secure news, but if you’re serious about doing your own PR, you should draft one, even if you never use it to send to anyone.
Also, you don’t ever want to be in the situation where the journalist asks for a press release on you and wants it quickly and you have nothing to hand in.
Many ask whether they need more than one press release for the same story. A great story may very well need to be tweaked for a different audience. Perhaps as the founder of a business based in a particular region, you might want to consider drafting a regionally relevant press release that could be completely different to the story you tell consumers or your trade media. Think about the different audiences you want your press release to go to, and if they are wildly different, then it is likely that you will need to cut up your story for relevant media.
Where to Start
Below are a few practical recommendations that will help you write a decent press release even if you’re a complete newbie.
Headlines. Make sure you use an attention-grabbing headline. It can include a pun, but make sure it’s clear what it is about. Think about the headlines of articles in the paper when you read them: They draw you in. Your headline must do the same. You can also consider using one or two subheaders if there are key secondary points to your press release.
First paragraph. First things first. Your opening paragraph should contain who, what, when, where, and why, otherwise known as the Five W’s. Think of your press release as a newspaper article. The first paragraph should set the scene and tone for the whole press release. You have the headline, and then the first paragraph is your opening para for setting the story. The further down you go, the more background detail that can be included, just like the further down you read a news article, the more information there is.
For now, keep all information about when you were founded, what you do, team biographies, and other factual information out of the press release. We will get to this in Lesson 8, and it will go into what we call the boilerplate. That isn’t to say the rest of your release shouldn’t be factual; it absolutely must be factual and can’t be biased.
Style. Other things to watch out for: Make sure you don’t have too much jargon or things that only mean something to your industry. Write as if an intelligent five-year-old could understand what it is you’re talking about. If you are not sure, ask a friend (they don’t need to be a clever child) if they understand what you are saying. If they find it boring or complicated, ditch your jargon.
Quotes. Whether it is a business or consumer story, include a quote from the CEO/founder to give context. Watch out for the following statements. however:
• “I am delighted.”
• “I am excited.”
• “We can’t wait for …”
They are the most clichéd and overused quotes—and who actually talks like that?
Your quote needs to be bold. It is your opportunity to give more color or opinion and can be really personal. This is where you can say how you really feel, so make it memorable.
Thanks for reading and come back tomorrow for even more tips on how to write a press release!
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