Your business or organization has news to share, but you’re unsure how to spread the word. Press releases are an ideal and easy way to get out the word about your business’s announcement, whether it’s a building project, upcoming event, important transaction, new hire or promotion. Putting together a press release doesn’t need to be daunting. Here are eight tips to writing a press release effectively:
1. Write a good headline
Journalists get hundreds of emails daily. To make your press release stand out from the crowd, you need a catchy but informative headline. Keep your headline to less than six words—you can always add a subhead—and make sure it contains the most important piece of information. Don’t be boring and say, “Company A hires worker.” Instead say, “Company A adds Jane Smith for key role.” As to style, don’t forget to center and bold the headline. Make it about 20 points. If adding a subhead, put it in italics (and not bold) and make it about 16 or 17 points.
2. Start off right
Begin the press release with the city and state where your organization is located. Start off with that information and then add a dash—from there you can go right into the release.
3. Don’t bury the lead
For journalists, the lead is the main point of the story. In a press release, make sure the main point and all the key information are included in that first paragraph. You can’t guarantee that that reader will go further than that, so make sure it includes the need-to-know information. The second and third paragraphs should contain secondary and supporting information.
4. Remember the Five Ws
An effective press release needs to answer the what, when, who, where and why. What is happening? Where and when? Why is it happening? Who’s involved? A good press release must include this information. Without it, the reader will hit delete. Also, if it works, include the “H”—how is something happening? These are all essential good writing tips.
5. Use the right style
Write a press release as a news story. Keep sentences short and simple. Don’t use jargon or terms that the average person wouldn’t understand. Focus on facts and information—remember you want the reporter receiving your press release to understand it’s news. Another key element—be sure to run a spell check and read it thoroughly before sending. Reporters will immediately hit the delete button if they get a release full of errors.
6. Include a quote
Reporters like quotes, so seriously consider including one in your press release. Whether it’s from the company president or a fundraising chair (if the release is about an upcoming event), make sure the quote sounds real and not canned. Read it aloud and make sure it sounds like it’s something a real person would actually say. Another tip about quotes: Don’t make them too long. Remember, it needs to sound like someone actually said it—if it has four long sentences in it, edit it down.
7. Include contact information
You need to make it easy for the reporter to contact you for more information or if he or she has additional questions. Be sure to include your contact name, email, and phone number, or include that information for a key person involved with the company’s news. It’s also good to include website addresses embedded right in the press release so reporters can check that out for more information. Don’t forget to include the company’s Twitter handle or Facebook page address, too.
8. End on the right note
Press releases traditionally end with three ###s. It signifies to the reporter that the release has come to an end. By including that, you’re demonstrating to the reporter that you understand how news releases work and he or she is bound to take you more seriously.