How to write a press release

Press releases are a great way of promoting your business.

They are a powerful, but frequently overlooked promotional tool and if you haven’t added press releases to your marketing mix, you could be missing a trick!

Press releases provide an opportunity to raise awareness of your business by getting your latest news covered by the press.

Perhaps you’ve secured a new contract win, made a new appointment, are launching a new website, speaking at a conference or fund-raising for a local charity?

If you phone or email a journalist to tell him or her your news, they are likely to ask if you have a press release to send over. If so, don’t panic! Below are some tips for writing a press release. Just remember that it shouldn’t be an outwardly promotional tool. Journalists will judge it by its newsworthiness so can’t view it simply as a free advert.

Before you start

  • Why is the press release being written? – to announce news, increase business, target a specific audience or drive people to a new website?
  • What is the audience and why do they need to know about your product or service?
  • Does the release contain newsworthy, invaluable or timely information that will be of interest to the target audience?
  • What do you want people to take away from the press release? Are you going to include a call to action?

Writing your press release:

  • The first sentence should be a summary of the story. Get your key points across to catch the journalist’s attention. Answer all the important questions like who, what, where, when, why and how
  • Expand on the details in the second paragraph. Remember, the journalist will want to know what is unique or new about your story and why it will appeal to their readers or listeners. Ensure you back up any claims with facts or figures as you expand. eg If you have won a new contract, explain what you will be doing and for whom.  Let your client know what you are doing and invite them to include a quote
  • Add in your own quote to bring the story to life. Use quotation marks to distinguish it from the rest of the copy
  • Ask yourself all the time what is new, unique and special.  These are the angles a journalist will be looking for
  • Location is also important if you are targeting your local paper as either you or your business should be in the paper’s readership area
  • Finish off with details such as dates, times, a contact number (ideally mobile as journalists don’t just work 9-5) and any web addresses
  • Check for spelling mistakes and grammatical errors
  • Keep your copy punchy and to the point
  • Avoid jargon
  • Be factual and objective
  • Write a headline that sums up the story in a short punchy sentence
  • Avoid making your press release sound like an advert:  if it reads like a free plug with no substance, journalists will bin it!

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