HOW TO WRITE PRESS RELEASES
There are many web sites that will help you decide if your news item is “newsworthy” enough to get picked up by the media. Some sites can show you how to start your Release strong, and how to write for the media so it grabs their attention. They may point out how not everything is news and how to think about your audience. Typically you are lead though some questions about your Release: does it sound real-life? Are you telling the truth, do you avoid clichés, have you got an interesting news angle, are you staying in an active voice rather than passive, do you use as few words possible? Some of these sites helps you avoid jargon and use of hype as well as advise you about getting permission for quotes or protected information. Tips include how to summarize for a good close to your Release and how to describe your organization. Browse around the internet as there are many helpful sites for crafting press releases.
Newspapers you are think about using will send you their guidelines, which are very helpful and will give you their maximums, any requirements, and often a sample format to follow.
Formatting Your Press Release
How you present your news is just as important as its content.
Use Caps and lower case. NEVER SUBMIT A PRESS RELEASE IN ALL UPPER CASE LETTERS. This is very bad form. All CAPS is used to “yell” in print and is very bad form – newspaper people hate it, so use mixed case letters.
Watch your grammar. Use proper grammar and watch your style. Errors in grammar and style affect your credibility. Releases with errors in grammar and style usually get tossed.
Write, edit, re-write. Take time to do it right. Write, print, proof read. Rewrite, edit. Become a “wordsmith” and carefully craft and fine-tune your words like a piece of art – conveying the correct message takes time, so take the time to do it.
No HTML. Don’t embed HTML in your Release. Your Release will hopefully be distributed over a variety of media and your HTML code may cause your text to be unreadable and discarded.
Sufficient number of paragraphs. If your story is newsworthy, it’s unlikely it can be told in a few sentences. If you only have a few sentences, chances are you do not have a newsworthy item
Summary paragraph. Always include a one-paragraph summary. Your Release may get distributed with only your headline, summary, and a link to your press release. If you don’t include a summary paragraph, the effectiveness of your Release may be destroyed.
Don’t include your e-mail address. If you include your e-mail address in the body of your press release, you run the risk of receiving spam. This is because your e-mail address will be available to the public.
Headline Announces News in Title Case, Ideally Under 80 Characters
The summary paragraph is a little longer synopsis of the news, elaborating on the news in the headline in one to four sentences. The summary uses sentence case, with standard capitalization and punctuation.
City, State, Month Day, 2009 — The lead sentence contains the most important information in 25 words or less. Grab your reader’s attention here by simply stating the news you have to announce. Do not assume that your reader has read your headline or summary paragraph; the lead should stand on its own.
A news release, like a news story, keeps sentences and paragraphs short, about three or four lines per paragraph. The first couple of paragraphs should answer the who, what, when, where, why and how questions. The news media may take information from a news release to craft a news or feature article or may use information in the release word-for-word, but a news release is not, itself, an article or a reprint.
The standard press release is 300 to 800 words and written in a word processing program that checks spelling and grammar before submission. This template is 543 words.
The ideal headline is 80 characters long. Publications will generally accept headlines with a maximum of 170 characters. It is recommended you write your headline and summary last, to be sure you include the most important news elements in the body of the release. Use title case in the headline only, capitalizing every word except for prepositions and articles of three characters or less.
The rest of the news release expounds on the information provided in the lead paragraph. It includes quotes from key staff, customers, or subject matter experts. It contains more details about the news you have to tell, which can be about something unique or controversial or about a prominent person, place, or thing.
Typical topics for a news release include announcements of new products or of a strategic partnership, the receipt of an award, the publishing of a book, the release of new software or the launch of a new Web site. The tone is neutral and objective, not full of hype or text that is typically found in an advertisement. Avoid directly addressing the consumer or your target audience. The use of “I,” “we” and “you” outside of a direct quotation is a flag that your copy is an advertisement rather than a news release.
Do not include an e-mail address in the body of the release. If you do, it is an open invitation for spam. Most publications will have a method for safety giving an email address or you can put it in a cover letter that doesn’t get forwarded.
“The final paragraph of a traditional news release contains the least newsworthy material,” said Mario Bonilla, member services director for . “But for an online release, it’s typical to restate and summarize the key points with a paragraph like the next one.” Think of the press release as an inverted triangle with the most important information at the top and lesser information as it tapers down.
For additional information on the news that is the subject of this release (or for a sample, copy or demo), contact Mary Smith or visit www..com. You can also include details on product availability, trademark acknowledgment, etc. here.
About XYZ Company:
Include a short corporate backgrounder, or “boilerplate,” about the company or the person who is newsworthy before you list the contact person’s name and phone number.
Mary Smith, director of public relations
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Sample Press Release:
For Immediate Release
MILLIONS SUFFER PANIC ATTACKS
Anxiety Disorders torture an estimated 20 million people but many must suffer in private.
Known also as “panic attacks” or Agoraphobia, the effects can range from a mild feeling of
dread to a crippling fear.
Whatever the effect, millions do not venture from the safety of their home. Some sufferers have a disabling fear of leaving their house or being with other people. A common fear for the Agoraphobic is a fear of standing in lines. Some cannot even walk out to their mailbox, venture into public, or drive a car. The afflicted person can also feel that they are “going crazy.”
Loved ones often find it hard to help with these unfounded fears and the panic episodes can be quite alarming. Feelings of bewilderment fear of having a heart attack, feeling the need to escape, and fear of not having enough air can be quite common. Many often feel quite alone, as they do not realize that millions also suffer from it.
In recent years, research groups have done much work in this area. Treatment is available and groups and clinics have been created to tackle the problem. Many find relief in just knowing that they have fellow sufferers. Several good books have been written on the subject and relaxation tape recordings are available, many with exercises for achieving calm.
Persons interested in learning more or those wanting to join a self-help group may contact ______(enter contact information___________________ .
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(the three # indicates the end of your piece)
Page last updated February 26, 2017