Knowing how to write a press release is an essential skill when working in PR and marketing. A press release is a body of copy written in a clear, straightforward format designed to bring news to the attention of an editor or journalist.
But how do you write a press release effectively? CommsbyFaith's Tom Alderson has broken down the key components of an effective press release and has provided tips on how to give it the best chance of catching the eye.
Relevance and timing
It is important to identify what is newsworthy from the story and message you need to convey. The subject matter of the release has the best chance at piquing media interest if it contains news that is not known before.
When thinking about your PR outreach, you need to understand the relevance the content of a release has to a journalist. Highlighting key themes that will directly benefit a journalist will help ensure that it is promoted to the right person at the right time and help you cut through a busy news cycle.
It is beneficial to strategically approach the physical outreach of a press release. Be mindful of the busier times in the media. A release put in front of a journalist on a Monday will be more likely to get traction than on any other weekday.
Press release template
When it comes to writing the release itself, having a clearly outlined press release template, with a checklist of components to include, is useful, especially when looking at digital media.
- Release date – Have a clear date for when journalists can publish the release, whether that is the day you send it or a future day under embargo, to clearly guide the journalist as a starting point of your PR outreach.
- Headlines and key information – A punchy headline is an obvious but critical part of any press release. Many journalists won’t even open your email without an attention-grabbing headline, so getting this right is crucial. You can add further value by promoting any noteworthy information, or statistics, as highlighted bullet points, before the main body of copy begins, to reinforce the headline.
- Context – Identifying the who, what, when, where and why for a journalist should be one of your first ports of call. You need to be clear on what newsworthy topic you’re discussing, when it happened, where it happened and who it concerns.
- Ordering – Make sure the most relevant information is at the beginning of the press release. If your most newsworthy content is in the first few paragraphs, this will entice a journalist to read on.
- Links – For digital PR outreach, adding relevant backlinks is a must. Including a link to a client’s website, or specific pages or assets which complement the release will have huge benefits in terms of driving up SEO value and brand visibility.
- Expert comments –A newsworthy story can always be enhanced by providing a voice of authority on any given subject. Including quotes from experts (your client) adds that extra dimension and enhances the appeal of the release overall.
- Boilerplate – Any press release you write, and outreach is done so to promote your client and their brand. Therefore, adding a boilerplate will give readers a brief description of the company, as well as an outline of what they do and who they are. Journalists will appreciate it, and most likely post your press release to their news/ media room to share with their customers and visitors.
Writing style tips
Press releases don’t need to be chapter and verse in terms of the information they contain, they are included in your PR outreach to grab someone’s attention, which will hopefully lead to coverage and enquiries for further information.
It’s important to keep your writing clear and concise. Laying out a clear order to your writing, with short, sharp sentences will keep the reader’s attention throughout. The release doesn’t need to be overly long, aim for no more than a page and a half of A4.
Paragraphs should also be short where possible, to really amplify the key points of the release. Consider double spacing the paragraphs as well when it comes to structuring, as this will ensure the release looks easy to read when it lands in a journalist’s inbox.
Look for synonyms throughout to avoid over repetition of phrases and words and avoid clichés and jargon, this will just put journalists off.
Lastly, your tone of voice in a press release is crucial. When targeting journalists in specific media sectors or publications, it’s well worth researching what they write about and adapting the tone of the release to suit them. This will give you the best chance of achieving success for your clients.
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