An Effective Press Release

The standards for writing and sending a press release follow a specific formula and one should never stray from these basics. Always remember you have about 9 or 10 seconds to get the editor interested.

FORMAT

The most critical rule for press release format: keep it to one page. It may seem impossible sometimes, but keep in mind your goal is not to write the entire article, it is to peak interest. You want to give just enough information to paint the picture with critical details. If you do your job right, the editor will contact you to develop the story.

Make sure to include all contact information such as a media contact name, phone number, email address and a Web URL. Headlines should be catchy and centered in a bold font. If your release is for immediate release, say so in all CAPS and always include a date of release.

The most important part of your release is the first paragraph. It is imperative to keep the first paragraph to 25 words or less. You can do it. It will include the where, what, when and how of your story. Do not include any “to be” verbs (am, are, was, is, were, be, become, became). Removing these words will give a sense of action to your story and make it more interesting. Instead of saying, “this is important to the project because”, say something like, “the importance stems from”. This will also save you from unnecessary extra words in your release.

Once you have completed the body of the press release, either put (END) or (####) at the bottom of the last paragraph. This lets the reader know there isn’t a missing page and the release is complete.

SENDING THE RELEASE

Save your document as a PDF. Editors will not open a Word DOC for fear of a virus. Saving as a PDF also ensures your format will not change and text will not shift.

When emailing your PDF, also copy and paste the release in the body of the email. This way they do not have to open an attachment.

Include pictures. Always, always, always include a relevant photo or two as an attachment.

Blind copy all recipients and send a copy to yourself. You do not want the editors to know who you are sending your story. This is competition. Every editor would like to think they are putting breaking news out there.

CHOOSING RECIPIENTS

Identify editors & reporters who would be most interested in what you have to say. Only send your release to one person per news outlet. Most editor email addresses can be found on their Website.

Be patient. Sending a press release is hot or miss. Not every editor or reporter will bite.  In some cases, you may have to rewrite the release and try again, or wait until you have another event, announcement, or idea to submit.

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