The second in the series, this article offers an outline of what to include in every press release.
This article is intended to make press releases easy to write, and is offered to the public by Kentucky writer and marketing consultant Angela Allen Parker.
Press Releases 101 (Part II)
Last month, we discussed topics newsworthy enough to use in a press release.
This month, we will discuss the basic outline of a press release and how to
make it effective by keeping it brief, direct, and interesting.
Indicate When the Press Release Should Become Public
This is the only place in a press release you should use all capitals and
this information should be against the left margin of the page. The majority
of the time, you will select “FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE”
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE FOR RELEASE AFTER (Give Release Date)
This should indicate the person best able to field questions and be interviewed
on the information contained in the Press Release and most likely to make
your company or cause look good. This information should be left flush on
- Individual Contact’s Name
- Name of the Company
- Physical Address (if desired)
- Website URL
- E-Mail Address
- Telephone Number
- Statement of willingness to be interviewed and contacted
If you are submitting your press release on company letterhead, you should
only need include the contact name, your e-mail address, the telephone number,
and the statement of willingness to be interviewed.
This is also called “the title” or “the header” and
should capture attention and draw the eye. If your headline is boring, your
release will never survive for a first reading.
Be creative. Don’t use all caps. Do capitalize the first letter of
all main words. Keep it brief, but make a strong statement.
Put Yourself on the Map
The city of origin and date should be the lead portion of your press release
and should be in the following format:
Atlanta, May 1 –
Dunnville, KY, May 1 –
If your city is well known, you may skip the state. If you live in a less
well-known location, be sure to include the state to help “place” your news geographically, especially when distributing the release online,
or in other regional, national or international forums and publications.
Clincher or Introduction Paragraph
This short paragraph should be a hard-hitting statement that quickly covers
the basic information and the major news points required for any good press
Always include your business name and website in this first paragraph. Often
people will read only the “clincher” and then will browse other
sections. Your press release should be written in an inverse pyramid format
where the most important and essential information is included at the top
and the less important information is included further down, with the least
important information being included at the end.
Editors cut press releases from the bottom to make them fit on the page.
If it’s at the end of your release, consider it disposable.
Be sure to include a quote on the topic. This will break up the dryness of
a report-style press release and will provide the personal touch for your
readers. It can also serve the piece in the same way a testimonial would and
it adds humanity to the message.
Why merely provide information, when you can tell why the information is
important? Use the quote to tell your readers what’s in it for them.
Why is this newsworthy? Will it improve the way things are currently done?
Will it make something easier? More affordable?
You cannot editorialize in the body of the press release, but the quote can
be a bit less formal.
Many new press release writers include the basic information required for
a press release but forget to include the “so what?” or the “who
cares?” portion. Relate your information to hot news topics for your
industry or items of interest to your target market.
Is it a local story? Does it affect local citizens, businesses or economies?
Is it unusual or the first of it’s kind? If you have a fact on the topic
that makes it noteworthy, then say so!
The final paragraph should restate and/or expand on the main points of the
This section should be titled “About (Your Company Name)” and
should be a short corporate background statement. This section is used by
the media for additional information on your company. It may include basic
information about what your company does, any claims to fame, a bit about
your company history, your location and contact information for the individual
in charge of answering general information questions. This contact is not
usually the same as the individual listed at the top of the press release,
but it can be.
That covers the basics of writing your own press release. In a later article
we will discuss distribution and the REAL reason you want to get your press
releases out into the world. But first…
Make Me Over, Please!
After the Press Release 101 article appeared in the previous edition, Terry
Smith of RE/MAX Fine Properties in Arizona e-mailed me to request a rework of
his existing information into an effective press release.
With his permission, in PART III next month I will give you a real life example
of a “before and after” press release MAKEOVER!
© Copyright 2004 by Angela Allen Parker of Wicked Wordcraft
This June 2004 article appears in the monthly” Word Magic” column in the www.epowernews.com newsletter.