At the college where I work, we write press releases whenever we have something we would like people to know about. The reason we do it, is because a press releases is a powerful method to promote what we do, and the publicity we get from them are awesome.
Here are 12 tips that I use when I write press releases:
Tip #1: When you write a press release, write it for the media, not your customers. Give journalists and editors the five w’s: Who, What, Where, When, and Why.
– Who is the story about
– What is the actual news
– The people, products, items, dates and other things related to the news, where and when.
– Why is it news
Tip #2: Skip the sales piece. Press releases are for journalists. Newsworthy means it provides something that is of interest to others.
For example, a student with an awesome exam may by itself not be newsworthy. However, if you highlight that 99% of the other students failed the exam, then that is newsworthy.
Tip #3: Instead of filling, your press release with fluff and claims, stick to the facts. Journalists want to see statistics and information.
Tip #4: Your headline and your first paragraph are often all that a reader will see on the press release websites, so make those paragraphs count! Make your headline brief, clear and to the point, highlighting the point of the press release. Your first sentence grabs your reader and says concisely what is happening and the subsequent two or three sentences support your lead sentence.
Tip #5: Use an active voice, strong verbs, and avoid jargon, adverbs, and descriptive words.
Tip #6: Start with the date and city in which the press release originates.
Tip #7: Write for the press. Use short sentences which are succinct and to the point. Avoid jargon.
Tip #8: Include information about your company, including website link and contact information. This is typically included at the close of the release.
Tip #9: Identify the end of the release with this symbol, ###. It let’s journalists know they have the complete information.
Tip #10: Try to include a call to action in your release. What do you want readers to do with the information? Are you hosting an event and you want them to attend? Do you want them to buy a product? Visit your website?
Tip #11: Send your release to the correct person. If you’re submitting to a web based press release directory then you’re set. If you’re submitting to your local paper, get online or on the phone, and find out who to send it to and how they prefer to receive press releases. Some prefer to receive it by email, some by mail, and some even prefer to receive it by fax (my guess is that today, most prefer to receive it by email).
Tip #12: Follow up, once. It’s okay to follow up with a journalist to make sure they’ve received your release and to see if they have any questions. It’s important to develop relationships with the press and a professionally handled follow-up is a good way to accomplish that.
My final tip is that you should determine, in advance, the point of your release and how it will benefit others. Then, in a single page, provide the details.
Press releases can and often do turn into full-page features so they’re definitely worth the time and effort.