How do you write a press release?
While I’d stop short of calling it easy, writing a press release is not difficult. Press releases are more proscribed and restrictive than other business marketing and PR you might do, but they are not complex.
The primary, overarching rule for writing a press release is that it should read like a newspaper article. In fact, some news outlets may print a well-written press release verbatim and save themselves the effort of writing an article from scratch.
Required elements for a press release:
- Contact info. This is contact info for the media, not necessarily the public. It can be your marketing person or company manager, whoever is authorized to speak publicly for the company on this topic. You can provide contact info for the general public/ potential customers later in the press release.
- Dateline (Date and location of the press release)
- Most important information first, then get broader and/or provide background later on. Essentially, a reader should find out everything they need in the first paragraph. This is known as a “reverse pyramid structure” or optimizing for “above the fold.”
- Follow Associated Press style guidelines. These are specific grammatical and stylistic rules that are sometimes contrary to rules we’ve been taught in school, such as state abbreviations. For example, according to AP style, “Colorado” would be abbreviated to “Colo.” in a press release or news article, instead of the habitual “CO.”
- End the press release with ###.
- Optional: Company boilerplate at the end of the press release.
Some tips for writing a press release that I use:
- First paragraph should include: Who? What? Where? When? and How?
- Second or third paragraph can cover the Why?
- Second or third paragraph should include an engaging quote to connect readers to the subject in a more personal way.
- As I get toward the end of the press release, I cover things like relevant background information, hopes or expectation for the future and why the information in this press release is important for news readers.
- Within the restrictive style of the press release, I still try to be creative. Some news outlets get dozens or hundreds of press releases a day. What can make mine stand out?
- Choose media outlets that are appropriate for this press release. Should it just got to local media regarding a local business or issue? Should it go to industry-specific or subject-specific national or international publications? Do some research. What publications or audiences would be most interested in your information?
- When I’m done writing and editing the press release, I reread it with this question in mind: “Can I imagine reading this in a newspaper or news website or hearing a TV anchor person reading it on the evening news?” If not, I edit accordingly.
The Write Hire can help your company Public Relations with:
- Press release writing
- Talking points for media interviews
- Writing company boilerplate and “About Us”