First thing to know about a release is that there’s an established format in the industry, with a handful of variations in style, so you’re best served to just stick with the program and make your press release look like everybody else’s. If you can write at all, you can probably produce a better press release than a lot of people who work for actual PR agencies.
A press release is no substitute for calling up a reporter you’ve built a relationship with to share big news, but it’s an important tool in your PR plan. Once you have your company press release format down, it will be easy to revise and tweak to create additional press releases on new developments. Being able to crank out a press release fast is invaluable when you can link your company’s expertise to a breaking news story.
Get your format straight. Your press release should be on company letterhead, whether it’s a paper or electronic version. You’ll need the words “press release” and “for immediate release,” as well as your contact info in case a reporter has questions. It might look something like this:Company name (logo)
PRESS RELEASEMedia Contact:
Ms. Jane Doe
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
IN ALL CAPS, PUT A HEADLINE THAT SUMS UP YOUR NEWS
YOUR CITY, Today’s Date Month/Day/ Year – And here’s where you start with the text of the release itself. The first paragraph should cover the basic facts of who, what, where, why and when. It should also be as intriguing as possible. If you don’t grab the reporter’s attention in this first paragraph, he or she may not read the rest of the release. If you plan to post your release online, search engines will index words at the beginning of the document, so include the words someone might Google if they were looking for information about your topic.
In the following paragraphs you can explain more and possibly add a quote or two from yourself or another company spokesperson. Remember that the reporter is not there to sell your company. Reporters are looking for topics or news that would make an interesting story for their readers. When you can link your news to a larger trend, that can help. For instance, if a hurricane is the breaking news and your company has developed a new hurricane survival kit or offers an online alert system for schools to notify parents of extreme weather condition.
Try to keep it the release to one page if possible. Use block style, rather than indenting paragraphs, and double space. If you can include a photograph that relates to the release, that is often appreciated, and can increase your likelihood of getting coverage. For online releases, attach a photo in a jpeg format, but keep the resolution low enough to email easily.
The final paragraph of your release should be your boilerplate, which is a standard description of your company. You might set it apart with a subhead like, For more information: Then describe your company and what it does and send them to your website to find out more. After your final sentence, center three pounds signs (or type -30-) to indicate the end of the release. (Journalists have been doing this since the Civil War, when they telegraphed their reports and ended their transmissions with XXX, the Roman numeral for 30.)