Do you shun or cringe at the thought of having to create your own press release? Well fear no more! This blog is going to provide you with the basics of press release writing to help you overcome your writing block.
Before diving in- let’s cover what exactly a ‘press release’ is. By definition, a press release is a written or recorded communication directed at members of the news media for the purpose of announcing something claimed as having news value. In the past they were mailed or faxed to assignment editors at newspapers, magazines, radio stations, television stations, and/or television networks. Now you can simply search the media site you wish to get the proper name and email address to get the story to the proper person.
Put simply, a press release is just a statement prepared for distribution to the media. The purpose of a press release is to give journalists information that is accurate, newsworthy, and useful.
Press releases conform to an established format. Once you get the hang of writing them, all you have to do is fill in the blanks. Journalists receive so many press releases a day, they have set standards and expectations that you must conform to just to have your release read, let alone published. If your press release is printed ‘as is’, without changing even one word, then you know you have conformed to the journalistic standards of that particular medium. “Write on”, you’re doing a fabulous job!
The content of the Press Release is what is essential, because with the right framework; the message can be able to shine in its own right. There are seven basic elements that every press release should have in terms of content and how it appears:
1. FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: These words should appear in the upper left-hand margin, just under your letterhead. You should capitalize every letter.
2. Contact Information: Skip a line or two after release statement and list the name, title, telephone and fax numbers of your company spokesperson (the person with the most information). It is important to give your home number since reporters often work on deadlines and may not be available until after hours.
3.Headline: Skip two lines after your Contact information and use a boldface type.
4. Dateline: This should be the city your press release is issued from and the date you are mailing your release.
Lead Paragraph: The first paragraph needs to grasp the reader’s attention and should contain the relevant information to your message such as the five w’s.
5 W’s: (who, what, when, where, why).
6.Text & Content: The main body of your press release where your message should fully develop. The content of the press release, beginning with the date and city of origin, should be typed in a clear, basic font (Times New Roman, Arial, etc.) and double-spaced. If your press release exceeds one page, the second page should indicate ‘ Page Two’ in the upper right hand corner.
7. Journalistic standards have set basic parameters to define the end of a press release: ###. Three # symbols, centered directly underneath the last line of the release indicate the end of a press release.
Recap: At the lower left hand corner of your last page restate your product’s specifications, highlight a product release date.
PRESS RELEASE CHECKLIST
• Company Letterhead, Name, Address, Phone Number, Web Address
• PRESS RELEASE in all caps
• Contact Person’s Name
• Immediate Release or Release Date(all caps)
• HEADLINE or TITLE in BOLD/CAPS
• BODY-Date/City-(who,what,when,where and why)
• Catchy Text- What is it that is unique about this story
• Sum it up…
• Basic Font, Double Spaced, Page Numbers, and ###
• Action Plan/Calendar