How to write a press release

I have previously written some tips on how to write marketing plans and customer profiles, which have been really useful to some readers looking to build on those areas. With this in mind, I have now written a template explaining how to write a press release.

The world of PR can be a steep learning curve for the inexperienced, however, get it right and your brand could get all the attention and publicity you’ve been dreaming of, for free. Take a look at my tips on how to write a press release below.

1. Release date

At the very top of your release, write in capitals when you would like your press announcement to be released. It’s often written in the format:

“For immediate release” or “release date: (date / time).

2. Headline

Write a short, snappy, simple headline for your release. The primary keyword should be included here and should be no longer than 160 characters. Write this in capitals.

3. Introduction paragraph

All your key information needs to be in this paragraph. It’s basically a summary and thus should briefly explain what the main topic of the release is and why it’s newsworthy. This paragraph should be about 2 – 3 lines in length and written in italics.

4. Paragraph one – the body

The main body of your news release should consist of about 2 – 3 paragraphs and should tell your readers everything they need to know, fleshing out the details outlined in your introduction. Cover the 5 W’s:

  • Who is the news about? (e.g. Lush Cosmetics)
  • What is the news? (.e.g. Creating a new animal rights campaign)
  • When is the news happening? (e.g. A week from now – time and date)
  • Where will it be happening? (e.g. At all Lush stores)
  • Why is this happening? (e.g. Lush support animal rights and want to increase awareness)
  • How will it happen? (e.g. in-store promotions, website etc…)

The more newsworthy you make the content in the press release the better and the higher probability that it will be selected by a journalist.

Also, don’t make the content all about the company, think about how you can get people involved or how it will benefit / interest them. Readers aren’t interested in news that’s just about the company, especially if they’ve never heard of you before.

Each paragraph should focus on one specific point. Don’t mix your points or messages.

5. Additional paragraph

Your last paragraph should be a quote or two from someone who is relevant to the story. In the above example, you could have two quotes; one from the Marketing Manager at Lush and another quote from someone who works within animal rights.

Each quote should make one point. Try to keep them informational, but concise as possible.

6. Contact details

Finally, include your PR contact details – who to contact and how to contact them (email, phone, company, Twitter etc…)

Tips

1. Keep it short

Keep the information in your press release on a ‘need to know’ basis. Does the reader need to know everything you’ve included? If something’s not important, take it out. Try to keep it about one-page length.

2. Know your media

Read the papers, magazines and TV / radio stations you want to be featured in. Look at the type of news they report on – is this relevant to you? You can also ring each of the places you want to be featured in and see what journalists are looking for at that point in time and if they’d be interested in covering your story, if so, when are their deadlines due? Work around them.

3. Don’t attach your release

When you email reports and journalists, send your press release in the body of the email. Don’t send it as an attachment and certainly don’t save it as a PDF. Journalists are busy people and they’re not going to spend time rewriting your press release for you.

4. Follow up

Once you’ve sent your release, if you haven’t heard anything after a few days don’t be afraid to follow it up. Ask if they got it okay and if they have any questions for you. Either email the journalist direct or call the news desk.

5. Try, try again

If you’re unlucky on this occasion and they’re not going to feature your release, ask why. Any feedback is better than no feedback and it might be something you can learn from and develop, so next time your press release will be better. Like I said at the start, PR is a learning curve and you only learn by doing.

That about sums up my tips for how to write a press release. If you have any additional points for press writing, then please let me know in the comments below, or find me on Twitter, thanks!