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Many companies create a press release template so that all of its releases follow a similar format. The template will usually include those elements of the release that are standard in every release, such as the contact information, the dateline, and the "boilerplate" company information. A template will ensure that your releases are consistent and that all the required information is included. Just be sure to proofread carefully any release that uses a template to make sure that it flows smoothly and that all the information included is correct for the given event. You should be particularly careful about the dateline and media contact information.
In the upper-left corner of the press release, include the name, telephone number, and e-mail address of the media contact person within your company. This needs to be a real person, someone who is both willing and able to take inquiries from the media. If an editor calls and doesn't get an answer or a return call, it's unlikely the story will go anywhere. Don't issue a press release the day before the press contact goes on vacation.
Every press release should include a 1) media contact, 2) headline, 3) dateline, 4) opening paragraph, 5) body, and 6) an "About" section. Include the answers to the six basic questions (who, what, where, when, how and why) in the first paragraph. Quote a company executive in the second paragraph. The third and subsequent paragraphs should provide detail on the facts given in the first paragraph.
All press releases should include at least one quote. Include a quote from the highest-ranking executive you can find. A quote might say, "Razor blade manufacturers will save time and money with this new manufacturing process," said Joe Smith, president and CEO of XYZ Company. "The companies that have tested the prototype are very excited about it."
The last thing in every press release is the "About" section, that gives information on the company or organization submitting the release. You should develop a standard, "boilerplate" description of the company to be included in the "About" section at the end of the release. The description should be about a paragraph, and it should include the company's name, when it was founded and by whom, and the general business of the company. Awards and accomplishments can be included. The last sentence of the "About" section should direct the reader to the company's Web site and media contact for more information.
At the end of a press release, you will include information about the company. This section should include factual data about your company. For example, "XYZ Company is a leading provider of manufacturing equipment to the razor blade industry. XYZ provides manufacturing equipment to three of the top five razor blade producers. The privately held company with headquarters in Boston, Massachusetts, has grown more than 100 percent per year for the past five years. For more information, visit www.zyxco.com or call 1-800-123-4567.
All press releases should include a dateline. The dateline of your press release should include the city and state in all caps followed by an em dash (a long dash), the date of the release, and another em dash. The body of the release begins on the same line. For example: "TRENTON, NJ--November 30, 2005--XYZ Company today announced..." If you follow Associated Press style in your releases, there are cities that stand alone. In other words, you do not include the state in the dateline. There is a list of these cities in each AP Style Guide.
Make sure your headline includes all the pertinent information in a concise way. Overblown statements such as, "Amazing New Product Will Revolutionize Computing," are not credible and don't tell the editor why the release is important. The headline should catch the attention of the editor and prompt him or her to read the body of the release.
A sample opening paragraph for a press release might say, "TRENTON, NJ--January 1, 2006--XYZ Company, a leading provider of manufacturing equipment, today announced a new razor blade manufacturing machine. The new machine is expected to reduce time to market for new blade designs and decrease production costs." This paragraph answers who, what, why, when, where, and how.
The opening paragraph of your press release should include the answers to the six basic questions that a journalist will want answered. Describe who, what, where, when, how, and why. Make it direct and factual. Don't assume that anyone will read any further than the opening paragraph, because they may not. It should include all the pertinent details. Do not include a quote or opinion in the opening paragraph.
Editors expect to see a standard layout for a press release. At the top of the page, against the left margin, put the contact section. Below the contact information include the line, "FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE." Place the headline on the next line, centered and in bold. A subhead should go directly beneath the headline, also centered but in italics, not bold. The body of the release comes next, beginning with the dateline. The opening paragraph should include all the pertinent facts (who, what, when, where, why, and how). The second paragraph typically includes a quote from an officer of the company. The remainder of the release body follows. The last line is three pound signs (###), centered, showing that the body of the release has ended. The boilerplate "About" section comes last. This section includes basic company information.