So you have some information you think is newsworthy—something that will interest the public and earn you some media coverage, as well. Maybe it is an announcement on a large sale you will be having in which a part of proceeds will go to a local non-profit organization. Or maybe you have won an important award in your industry or your company has made a few major updates.
While you can send news to customers through printed flyers or email updates, a press release gets your news to the general public as well. How do you go about proposing your information to the news media? A crisp, clear, and concise press release is how. Read on to find out what it takes to write a press release that gets read along with some tips and resources for submitting yours to news publications.
1.) Tips for Writing a Press Release
A press release is a prepared statement directed toward the press that typically follows a prescribed template: a title and subtitle, body, boilerplate and contact information. It’s important to stick to the accepted press release form, but writing a solid press release involves a whole lot more than following a template. News media inboxes are flooded daily with press—what will set yours apart? An engaging write-up that piques your audience’s curiosity right off the bat.
Title and Subtitle
Put the phrase “For Immediate Release” at the top of the page. Beneath that, centered and in bold font, is the title: the most important attention-grabber in your press release. Underneath the title, in italicized font, is the subtitle, which expands or clarifies your title.
A good title and subtitle should accomplish two things. First, they should communicate your message clearly and memorably. Try to use keywords that will set the stage for your information. Second, a title and subtitle should intrigue your audience. Though you see a press release as a way of gaining media coverage, the press evaluates it on whether or not it will interest readers. Use bold, but not sensational, language. Show how your press release is relevant and timely to your audience. Try asking a question. Remember: a good title will determine whether or not your reader keeps reading.
The first full paragraph of your press release is the main story. News reports are often structured like an inverted pyramid: the meat of the story at the top and the finer details at the bottom. That way, a reader who stops reading before the end of the press release still sees the main points. Strive for clarity over entertainment value. It may be helpful to evaluate the body based on the five w’s: who, what, when, where, why—but don’t use these points as a drafting template. Order your information in an interesting and logical manner, and proofread afterwards to ensure you have included the salient points.
Dating back to the days when newspapers used steel printing plates that could be reused many times, the “boilerplate” is a standard chunk of information about your company or organization: its mission, when it was founded, and any of its awards or achievements. Keep it concrete—this isn’t a commercial; it’s your company’s main facts. Instead of aggrandizing yourself, use the boilerplate to set your company or organization apart by highlighting its unique approach or mission.
Don’t forget this part! Include the name and title of your provided contact, as well as an email address and phone number. You may also want to include a mailing address. No matter how well-written your press release, it can all go to waste if you forget to provide contact information that will lead your reader to a helpful, knowledgeable member of your organization. Be sure to always end the press release with ### or [END] so that editors know where your press release has ended.
2.) Press Release Example
For those of you who have never seen a press release, or maybe you just need a refresher of the format, the following is an example of what a press release may look like. Keep in mind that certain press release sites may have slightly different formatting requirements, but in general, this is what yours should look like:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
Eye Catching Title Goes Here in Title Case
City, State – May 1, 2012 - Use the who, what, where, when, why format in the first paragraph to form a quick synopsis of the events of your story.
Use the rest of the article to break down the story and provide more detail. Quotes from staff or other folks go a long way to personalizing your message.
Remember to keep your tone as neutral as possible. Unless you are submitting an opinion piece, avoid taking a position and stick to the facts of the announcement.
The last paragraph before your contact information should be your boilerplate, or in other words, the “About the Company” section.
Your Name or Company PR Rep
City, State Zip
Or to see a real press release sample, visit one of the resources below:
- Press release sample - This page gives a list of press releases for you to view by industry.
- Press release format and kit - See the proper format for a press release and then download the DIY press release kit for easy formatting.
- Press release examples - Here are some more press releases listed by category.
3.) Submitting Your Press Release
You can submit your press release to local or regional newspapers, to online newspapers or to paid or free press release publishing sites. Not every one of your press releases will be picked up by formal news sites, but online press release submission sites will often accept nearly any press release as long as it meets their guidelines.
Here’s a list of press release sites you may want to investigate using:
- iReach from PRNewswire - This is a paid press release distribution site that offers three different packages, depending on your budget and needs.
- PRWeb - This site distributes your press release to a variety of press release sites, depending on the package you choose.
- PRBuzz - Depending on the package you purchase, this site will distribute your press releases to a number of media.
- 50 Free Press Release Submission Sites - This list was last updated in 2010; the sites are listed by page rank and all are free to submit to, but some do require registration.
Keep in mind that when submitting your press release to news sites, make sure you actually submit it to the right person. Most news websites have instructions on how to submit a press release, so do your research and submit your press release the right way.
4.) Promoting Your Press Release
According to an article on blogging by PrintPlace.com, the most important part aside from the actual content is getting the post out to the public. The same idea goes for a press release. A press release published online can be tweeted, shared on Facebook, emailed to subscribers of your newsletter, and even submitted to social news sites like BizSugar.com.
For a press release published in a printed newspaper, you can still email your local customers and announce when and in which news publication your press release will be published. This gets customers excited and involved, especially if your press release includes the announcement of a discount for the month of July, for example.
As you can see, a press release is not a complicated tool, but it does take a certain amount of thought to get right. Don’t be surprised if nobody picks up your releases at first. Editors often want to know who they’re dealing with or just may not have room in the current edition of their publication to get your release into it. So be persistent and it won’t be long before this powerful tool can start working for you.