What is a press release?

Distributing press releases is an affordable way of getting more publicity by getting it featured in media outlets. A company usually writes a press release to market the products and services they offer.

Press releases shouldn’t be confused with marketing literature such as brochures and sales letters. Even though press releases are basically used for marketing purposes – it must not be promotional in any way. Otherwise editors will trash it and not consider it newsworthy. Editors are not looking to publish advertisements in their newspaper or on their site, unless you pay for it. But instead they’re on the look out for notable news in your press release.

What’s newsworthy?

Common topics for a press release are:

  1. The launch of a new product
  2. A repackaged product
  3. Upgrades to an existing product line
  4. Speeches given by company representatives
  5. Events organized by your company

How should I approach writing a press release?

Writing a press release for the first time can be a daunting task. So you might want to familiarize yourself with press releases other companies have issued and take note of the structure and format.

Another way of looking at it is that you’re not trying to sell anything but to inform readers of your product, service or event. But still have a focus on the core benefits readers receive with your products.

Afterwards, begin writing an outline and think about what’s the news that you want to publicize. And then ask yourself why your target group would be interested in reading your press release.

What should be included?

The words “Press Release” need to included at the top to let the editor know what type of document they’re reading.

Next up, specify when you want it released. Use “For immediate release” if you want it be published as soon as possible.

Alternatively, if you don’t want your press release to distract from an upcoming event or product launch you can use, “Embargo until: 00:01 July 11th 2011”. This means that it cannot be published before July 11th.

Afterwards you start writing what you want to say in your press release.

Headline

Your headline just like any advertisement or article you write is the most important part of your press release. Make sure it’s interesting and appealing to attract your audience to read the full piece.

First paragraph

Here is where you express the news. Remember though to get straight to the point and tell the facts quickly. This isn’t a advertisement, so avoid any sales talk and hype about your company.

Second paragraph

Use this paragraph to back up your story with some supporting evidence. For example you could include results from a recent study that’s relevant to your story. Your press release becomes more credible when you include details into your story.

Third paragraph

Adding to the details above, you can include a quote that’s relevant to your press release. The quote can come from anybody, as long as you’ve gotten permission to publish it. This makes your press release more lively for your readers.

Final paragraph

The final part of your press release should link your business to the news you’ve written in the previous paragraphs.

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Use three #s centered on the page to indicate the end of your press release. And follow it up with a “Notes to the editor” section that includes; contact details, a short profile of your company and photo opportunities.

Things to avoid

Sales talk

Remember your press release is about informing your target audience. You shouldn’t try to be selling anything or appear to be with sales talk. Otherwise your press release gets thrown into the trash by the editor.

Over-hyped claims

Don’t include any facts that cannot be supported by other sources. Your press release will be checked by the editor to ensure its accuracy.

Technical jargon

Your press release must not be flooded with terms your target audience wouldn’t understand. You want to keep it simple and not scare people off because they don’t know what the words mean.

2 page press release

Ideally your press release should be a single-page to attract more readership. People these days are stretched for time and tend to scan articles first before deciding to read them in full. Make it easy for your audience by leaving out irrelevant information.

When all is written, it’s time to send out your press release. Use the headline of your press release as the subject of your email. Also upload it onto your site in case other media outlets you forgot to contact want to feature your press release.