A Press Release is, nowadays, one of the main tools for external communication and knowing how to write one is a start for making a statement and promoting a brand.
Companies use press releases to announce something – a product, a role, a feature, a service and even a conquest – and send it with just one goal: to see it published.
Writing a press release is not an easy job. The journalist is looking for something that interests his or her audience and the news must be prepared with that purpose. What you write in the press release determines if your theme will be published, so this happens to be a crucial exercise for brand positioning. The best press releases are the ones that are published without editing by the journalist, that include all the relevant information and that show exactly what the company wanted to transmit to the readers of that paper, magazine or blog. The public relations person, the journalist and the reader are the vertices of the triangle that determine the success of the action and all of them must be happy with the result.
If you’re looking for some tips on “how to write a press release”, here you have four topics that you must have in mind while you’re writing one:
1. Is the information relevant and direct?
When we write a press release we have tendency to believe everything we write is relevant. But is the journalist going to have the same opinion? Probably not. A press release must contain only the major information – ideally, this information should be on only one page – and must answer six questions: Who? What? When? Where? How? and Why?. If the journalist is interested in the theme and if he needs more information, he will contact you. News are clear and concise – that’s what the journalist is looking for.
2. Is the subject on the email attractive?
Journalists need the content that public relations people send them but, let’s be honest, they receive dozens or hundreds of emails everyday and a big part of them are press releases. It would be impossible to give all of them the attention they need and there’s a great possibility the press release is going to be considered “trash” even before they read it. The email subject must be attractive, captivating and direct. You must look for an original, relevant way to announce the main theme. Making them open your email is the first challenge – beat it.
3. Does the press release obey the format and content rules?
There are lots of different ways to present a press release and each company has its favorite model. Some like to attach a document to the email, others paste the press release directly on the email and others prefer to create an exclusive design for that action. Besides that choice, the press release must be easy to read (without adjectives or complicated words) and must include some specific information:
- Date and place of the press release,
- Lead (a small paragraph that is highlighted in order to give immediately to the reader the most relevant information),
- Essentials (where you can put all the info and quotes that support the main idea),
- “To know more” (where the company, the group or the project can include non-relevant information for this press release in particular but relevant for the company itself and its positioning; partnerships with other brands and accomplished goals are good examples of items that you can include here),
- Name and contact of the person who’s responsible for the company’s communication. If you want to include images, videos or graphics, these must contain a caption. Hyperlinked words must be highlighted.
In terms of content, the press release should follow the “inverted pyramid model”: the most relevant and direct information is on the top of the press release and the text will become more encompassing as it nears the end. In the last part, you can refer past successes in order to give credibility to the company and product or service announced in the press release.
4. What’s the story angle?
We can answer the six questions, we can follow the rules when it comes to format and content but there’s another thing we shouldn’t forget: the story’s angle. Not all stories have interest nor do all of them have interest for everyone. The way the story is told and, consequently, the way the news is written can determine if it is going to be published or not. When you decide to write the press release, make reference to all the facts that turn your brand into a unique one and, of course, adapt your press release to the audience of that paper, magazine or blog in particular. The same theme may be published by different media but each one of them will have a different angle in order to please their readers and viewers – use it as an advantage.
Not all press releases originate news and their sending, by itself, doesn’t bring results as satisfactory as one might hope.
Actually, writing the press release is only the first challenge. It’s important to know when to send it, to establish relations with the journalists, to be available to answer their questions, comments and doubts and, of course, to follow up when you don’t receive an answer. To thank them when they post it is something you must not forget. Even when the news is not published, journalists’ feedback and interest are as important as the press release itself and that can bring you advantages when it comes to writing another one.
By Carolina Nelas