Writing press releases for online use
To increase the chance of having a story published, make the editors’, freelancers’, reporters’ or journalists’ job easier by presenting the release in a format and style that appeals to them.
Considerations before writing the press release
1. Why the release is being written: to broadcast information, increase business, update target audiences?
2. Who is the audience?
3. Does the press release contain invaluable or newsworthy information that will be used by the target audience?
4. Is there a just cause for releasing the information that you wish to broadcast?
5. What do you want recipients to take away from the press release?
Overall tone and structure of the press release
1. Content – ensure that the release is grammatically correct and doesn’t contain any spelling mistakes, errors, and sources are quoted correctly.
2. Concise – keep it punchy and don’t use unnecessary flowery language e.g. cutting- edge, revolutionary.
3. Factual – present information that is true, correct and doesn’t embellish anything that is to be communicated.
4. Objectivity – virtually impossible to do, but refrain from using over hyped quotes from sources as they will be presented as being too biased.
5. Timing – The press release may not be topical, but it may be able to incorporate the release with a more recent news event.
Writing the Press Release
1. Collate and Organise Your Facts
A simple rule is to find answers to questions pertaining to the who, what, when, where, why or also known has 5 Ws of the event, don’t forget ‘how’ either. Put a date on the release and remember, yesterday’s news isn’t going to go far.
2. Identify Your Story’s Angle
A good story angle must have the following three attributes: · It must be the most important fact in your story. · It must be timely. · It must be unique, newsworthy or contrary to industry norms and trends. This story angle must be presented in the first paragraph as well as the headline of your press release.
3. Create a Catchy Headline
Keep the headline short and simple using less than ten words. It should convey the key point raised in the opening paragraph in a light-hearted manner that catches imagination and there attention. For example: Headline: Press Box Launches Press Release Posting Service. If the release is for immediate release, then say so and make this clear i.e. FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE. Opening Paragraph: Which then should be followed by details of the story
4. Writing in Third-Person Voice. A press release must be presented objectively from a third person point of view. Some of the guidelines are listed below: ·
- refrain from using any sales pitch in your press release
- remove “you”, “I”, “we” and “us” and replace them with “he” and “they”
- provide references to any statistics, facts and figures raised in the press release
- refrain from expressing personal opinions, unless they are done in quotes
- draw conclusions from facts and statistics only – not general opinion.
5. Provide “Quotes” From the Newsmakers
Put the most important message into a quote. Journalists always use quotes from the newsmakers to add an authoritative voice to their reports. If the press release contains quotes that are important and relevant to the story, chances are high that they will be replicated in full in the published article.
6. Provide Additional Background Information
End the press release with an appendix that provides brief background information on the company, newsmakers, as well as who to contact for further information.