How to write a press release

Having a well-written press release, and ultimately a series of them, will form the cornerstone of your PR campaign.

Before you start, you need to think about what you are going to write, and how you are going to present the information.  Here’s a quick check-list to help you.

  1. Before you even start your press release you need to identify your target audience and having done that you need to select your target media. Then, if you can, it is helpful to ensure you reach the appropriate journalists i.e. the sports journalist, editor or freelance who specialises in your industry.  Your press release should then be constructed to the specific focus of the outlet and the specialisation of the journalists in questions.
  2. What angle are you taking with your press release and why do you think people will be interested? Lateral thinking is helpful here. Are you going to talk about something new, or with a new price, an event, a new service, a success story?  Whatever your press release is about, you have to think about the readership of the publications that you are sending it to and why they would be interested in it.
  3. Keeping abreast of the news is helpful here as you might be able to ‘piggy back’ on a story or identify key people to add weight to your campaign.
  4. Think ahead – is your product/service that you’re going to talk about a one-off, or is it something that you want to talk about on a regular basis? If you are planning on sending out releases regularly, you will need to think carefully about what you are going to write in the whole series of releases – you can’t keep sending out the same information without presenting it in a different way.
  5. Media outlets plan ahead and being knowledgeable out the planned features can be key – monthly magazines will write about Christmas months in advance, for example, and major trade show issues will be planned several months beforehand. So knowing their schedules is a valuable resource.
  6. Think of your headline – a ‘killer’ headline makes all the difference!
  7. Explain the main part of your story in the first paragraph – journalists get sent a vast amount of information and need to to be able to process it quickly – get to the point!
  8. Cover all the other information in the rest of the paragraph – for products, things like size, colour, price, availability and for services thing like timing, pricing and so on. The object is to make things easy for the journalist – they won’t want to chase you up for the information.
  9. Include a low-res image and it must be good! If you take a look at most magazines nowadays, they are all very visual so your photography must be high-quality.  Having great images will increase the chance of your press release being used substantially.
  10. You must have additional high-res images to send, upon request – always have product (if relevant) and lifestyle shots.
  11. Make sure you include your contact details with a name, email address and phone number – it is fine to include a mobile/cell number, but be aware that journalists may phone you, so be prepared!
  12. Check, check and check again for spelling and grammar mistakes – particularly in headlines

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