Writing Press Releases Tips

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What should I write about in a press release?

What To Write About

First and foremost, a press release needs to be newsworthy. The subject matter needs to be important or interesting to the audience, not just to you and your company. If something happens that people want to know about, it's worthy of a press release. If something happens that only people internal to your company want to know about, it's probably not.

Does your press release answer these basic questions?

Time-Sensitive Information

News editors and reporters get tons of press releases every day. Most prioritize them by date, or how timely the information contained in the press release is. To make sure you are creating press release magic, include a release date for the news at the top of the press release along with the contact information. You should also include the date that the news item will occur. Since the release itself is often the announcement, and the release includes a dateline, you can often answer the question "when?" with "today." For example, "XYZ Company today announced its acquisition of ABC Company."

Does your press release answer these basic questions?

What the Press Release Is About

Writing effective press releases means conveying critical information. The subject of the announcement should be clearly stated in the headline. The first paragraph should include a description of what is being announced. The "what" is the most basic of the six questions reporters and editors need answers to, so address it first.

Does your press release answer these basic questions?

How to Write a Press Release

Whether you're writing press releases about events, products, or anything else, make sure you describe the who, what, when, where, how, and why that makes the event or product newsworthy. Don't worry if you can't fit all the information into the first paragraph. However, you should include all the most important information no later than the third paragraph.

Does your press release answer these basic questions?

Who Matters

In order to write an effective press release, you must describe who is issuing the release. Usually the company is named in the opening line of the release. For example, "XYZ Company today announced it is consolidating its East Asia operations." It's also a good idea to mention the company name in the headline as well.

Does your press release answer these basic questions?

Remember the Basics!

News reporters are taught to ask six basic questions about any story: who, what, when, where, why, and how. Include the answers to all of these questions within the first paragraph if possible. If you can't fit them all in, make sure they're all answered by the end of the third paragraph. Also, make sure you include contact information at the top of the press release so it is easy for the reporter or editor to follow-up with you should he or she wish to do so.

How can I attract press coverage? How do I provide news value? What are editors looking for in a press release? How do I get my release read?

Providing News Value

Make it as easy as you can for the editor to find the news value in your story. Don't make the editor slog through a lot of "spin" to find what's important to his or her readers. Truly new products and services, a new use for an existing product, or a new partnership that enhances both companies' position are good examples of true news value.

Does your press release answer these basic questions?

Why the News Matters

Even if the event, product, or service the press release addresses is in the editor or reporter's coverage area, if it is unclear why it matters to the readers, your release won't get picked up. You must address "why" it matters in terms of the benefit offered to the potential reader--who is also the potential customer. If you can, include the "why" in the first paragraph. Since this is the trickiest of the six facts (who, what, where, when, how, why) it may slip into the second or third paragraph.

Does your press release answer these basic questions?

Where Your News Occurs

News editors and reporters pay the most attention to press releases that contain information that will affect their audience in a specific geographic area. It is important to include where the event will happen and where the company is located in the press release. Be as specific as possible. If the event location is the same as the city cited in the dateline, include more detail in the body of the press release. For example, "LAS VEGAS, NV -- April 1, 2006 -- XYZ Company today announced a new computer chip at the Chip Conference being held at the Las Vegas Convention Center this week." If the release pertains to a new location, be sure to specify the exact address and be as specific as possible For example, "Bagel World's newest shop is located on Route 66 West, across from Joe's Bargain Outlet."

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Guru Spotlight
Barbara Gibson