Press releases follow a prescribed format, and if you want people to pay attention to them, you need to follow the format precisely. Remember your goal: you’re not just putting information out there for the heck of it, you’re trying to interest reporters in doing stories about your company. So think like a reporter!
- Write your headline. Make sure it’s catchy, in bold, with each first letter capitalized. It should be brief, clear and to the point: an ultra-compact version of the press release’s key point.
- Start with the date and city pertinent to the press release: “June 17, 2013, North Truro, MA:”
- The lede, or first sentence, should grab the reader and say concisely what is happening while expanding on the headline. For example, if the headline is “New iPhone App Counts Your Calories,” your lede might read, “Rocco Industries announces a new iPhone app to help dieters count and understand their calorie consumption.” As you can see, the lede expands the headline by adding a few more details—enough so that a prospective reporter can determine whether or not it’s a story they want to pursue. The next two sentences should in turn expand on the lede.
- The press release body copy should be succinct and tightly written. Don’t go for long sentences: remember that prospective reporters scan rather than read, so make it easy for them.
- The first paragraph sums up the press release, and adds the most interesting details about it. Remember that your job here isn’t just to present information, but to hook the reader’s interest.
- Add a quote. Reporters scanning your release want to know who the players are. Make it easy for them.
- Remember that the remainder of the release needs to give all the information. Don’t be coy and pretend that this is a novel’s back-cover blurb (“Find out what happens in this fast-paced tale of espionage!”)—nothing will turn a reporter off more. Deal with facts: events, products, services, people, targets, goals, plans, projects. Remember the list that reporters themselves use when writing, and include the who, what, when, where, why, and how of the story.
- At the bottom of the press release, provide an “about” section with information about the company. This allows you to frame the way the reporter learns about and in turn communicates who your company is.
- Add contact information. Reporters need to know how to reach you to request an interview, expand on the story, etc.
- Note the end of the press release by inserting three hash symbols (###).
It’s not difficult to write a press release: just follow these simple steps. The more you write, the better you’ll get at it, and then you’ll be … beyond The Elements of Style!