Press Release Writing 101

Writing a press release is here to stay. Yes, today there are many new (non-traditional) ways to receive information like Twitter and Facebook feeds, but communicators still have control over where, when and how they consume information. Now, press releases are about providing relevant content when, where and how your target audience, influencers and customers will consume it.

Remember that press releases live in the public domain, so anyone can see them at all times. So rather than thinking of your press release as a 100% guaranteed earned media coverage opportunity, also think of it as a piece of marketing content.

Okay, enough of the boring stuff, now how do you write one? Writing a press release can seem daunting but here are a few tips to help:

  • Make sure the news is newsworthy and not an ad. After all, it’s a news article. Sample news angles include new products, change in executive staff or additional funding.
  • Write an irresistible headline. Reporters receive hundreds of pitches a day, so make yours stand out. I recommend using action verbs and keeping it simple, short and interesting.
  • Stick to the five W’s in the first paragraph. If a journalist is going to only read one paragraph, make it worth their time. Using the inverted pyramid can help. Put the most important information first.
  • Don’t slack on the quote. You’ve given the reporter the nuts and bolts of the news (read the previous bullet), so now help paint the picture with the quote. The quote, which is usually given by key stakeholders in your company (e.g. board of directors, project manager, etc.), should provide insight, not more information.
  • In the body of the press release, explain why this matters to your audience. Think of it this way- explain the news in a few sentences like you were telling your grandma, before getting into all the details.
  • Check, double check and triple check your work. You don’t want reporters finding mistakes in your work and not thinking your company is reliable.

I know that’s a lot to keep in mind, but when written well, the payoff can be substantial for your company. Do it right and it can take your company from a nobody to a somebody.