Writing a proper press release (which journalists will read)

My name’s Keith Thompson and a warm welcome to my blog at Effective Media.  In the first article we looked at how businesses should look at PR as something they do already and simply need to focus it a bit more. So let’s first look at the benefits of this.

  • Firstly being media savvy doesn’t just affect sales, it can also have an impact and branding and reputation both offline and online.
  • Secondly search engines like press releases, video content and also photographs (properly tagged) too

So we’ve already ticked two major boxes here and we’re still not causing any great hole in the working day. So far all I have proposed is that you find and add one journalist per day, one from a local paper, one from a trade mag and so on for the next couple of weeks so that you build a database of contacts.

Now all we need to do is learn how to write a press release and here it is:-

Type 1: Paper press releases to be released physically by fax or snail mail.

1) Don’t for get your logo at the top. Sounds like an obvious one that doesn’t it? Well not really. It’s amazing how many companies still send news releases out without one.

2) Keep your language simple and to the point without being flowery. Don’t use five words when one will do e.g. “It is possible for customers to” “they can”

3) Beginners should use the three paragraph format on one side of A4 although there are longer versions. Let’s stick to the three paragraph version in this article.

4) Formatting: News Release at the top. To the left indicate when the press release is available from (avoid embargos like the plague). 1.5 space the text and single space the “Note to Editors” Include your immediate contact details here. Leave wide margins for notes.

5) Headline should be boldened, relevant and keyword biased. Attempts to be witty wil almost certainly be met with yawns. They do the jokes! “You can get slim by thinking about it says psychologist.”

6) First paragraph: Tell the whole story and nothing but the story. Who? What? When? Where? Which? Why? e.g. “You can put on muscle tone just by thinking about exercise according to a report by a top psychologist, Dr Tim Jones at a conference in New York today.

7) Second paragraph reinforces the story and might include a quote e.g. “Dr. Jones was speaking at the International Psychology Conference where he delivered his findings from experiments on 26 office workers.”

8) Third paragraph will be a call to action or invitation (this is your chance to sell your location) e.g. ” Dr Jones has his own webinar on the subject and wil be inviting readers to ask him questions this Wednesday at www.drtimjonesinc.com….”

9) End the press release with ENDS so that you don’t run the risk of any of your private contact details being published to the world.

10) Include a “note to editors” if you are inviting them to a photocall or other press event online or locally. perhaps you might wish to inform them that there are photographs available. Don’t forget to proofread and grammar check. Sometimes crucial phone numbers and website addresses can be typed in wrongly.

Type 2: email

As above except:-

4) Use normal text based emails single spaced. If you want to use HTML, check with the publisher first. In fact you should never spam editors with unsolicited emails anyway. You wil soon find out how they want your email by having a conversation with them preferably by phone or at least an advance email. Mass submitter software is not recommended for press releases.

If you are still nervous about writing your own press releases or content, we do offer a copywriting service here at Effective Media and Effective Publicity which is cheaper than you think. Please feel free to contact me for details at keith@effective-media.co.uk If not read on and we can see if we can provide the knowledge and skills you need to follow the Five Minute PR Plan.

In part three I will show you to shoot a video news release and also compose a picture which will dramatically enhance both the quantity and quality of coverage you receive both online and offline. Picture stories rule. find out why in the next installment.