Template: How to write a press release

How to write a press release EC Writing Services

My friendly friends, I have been getting so many inquiries about press releases (and target audience come to think of it, but that’s for another time).

Over the years I’ve given out stacks of info on working the media, becoming besties with journos, how to pitch them and tips on writing a press release.

But I’m not sure I’ve ever given you a template on how to actually write a press release.

So here, this one’s on me. I hope you find it useful.

These babies are – or should be – part of your marketing and PR strategy. These can go out online to PR distribution sources or sent directly to journalists.

Here are my hottest tips when it comes to writing a press release:

  • Don’t stuff it with jargon.
  • No big words that people can understand.
  • Make it interesting, easy to read, relatable and relevant to the readers of the publication, program or platform you’re send it to.
  • No hard sell.

Journos are looking for a newsworthy angle and I’m sorry to say that what we as biz owners think is newsworthy, is probably not to a journalist. I can give you some more info on finding the angle another time.

For arguments sake, just say you are a florist and you’re looking for a bit of extra publicity. This example below is just one idea on how you can turn your business into a newsworthy story.

Here’s the template. Good luck and happy word styling!

 

Press release writing template

 

PRESS RELEASE (capital letters clearly states what it is)                                    LOGO (top right corner)

 

For immediate release (or embargo details)

Date

 

Headline (often larger font, centred and bold)

HOT TIPS:

  • The shorter and punchier the sentences and paragraphs, the better.
  • The header should sum up the entire story. This is an art in itself, practice makes perfect.
  • Grab some magazines and newspapers to see how they do it.
  • Make it compelling.
  • Don’t make it too long – no more than 10 words or, at most, one line.
  • Add a “kicker” if you like – that’s a secondary headline and reiterates or emphasises the headline and the story.
  • Always use active words and present tense, not past…so ‘is’ not ‘was’ and ‘are’ not ‘were’

 

Lead sentence

The lead paragraph is one of the most important elements of a release because it compels the journo to read on. So make it punchy and different. It’s got to hook them in and make them want to run a story on you/your cause.

 

5 Ws and the H

 

Some people start with start with your location, you don’t have to.

For example:

Brisbane, Australia: Men have stopped buying their wives, partners and girlfriend flowers, according to a Brisbane florist.

 

  • WHO did it? 54 per cent of men
  • WHAT did they do? Stopped buying flowers for their partners
  • WHERE did they do it? In Brisbane
  • WHEN did they do it? On Valentine’s Day
  • WHY did they do it? They can’t be bothered/forgot
  • HOW did they do it? (How did this happen?) Got too busy at work/life

 

How to rework that content into a lead (or lead sentences):

 

NOTE: You can be different and creative in your article writing. Give it go. If it doesn’t work for you, just stick with the basics.

 

For example:

Valentine’s Day was a blooming disaster for the wives, girlfriends and partners of Brisbane men this year. That’s because 54 per cent of men who live in Queensland’s capital didn’t buy their loved ones flowers; an absolute floral faux par, according to florist Anthony Denk.

“We have seen a decrease in flower sales this year and we believe it is because men have been busy at work and simply forgot,” he says.

 

 

Body copy

  • Use the inverted pyramid – that is, the a pyramid turned upside down with the most important info at the top and least important a bottom…it’s an old journo rule because often the subs (sub-editors/proof readers) cut from the bottom up when a story didn’t fit in its allocated space or it got bumped to a smaller space.
  • The second paragraph expands on the first. Then elaborate on the five Ws and the H with each paragraph.
    • Why did so many men not buy flowers this year?
    • What stopped them?
    • Do you have a case study you could from someone you know or one of your past customers?
    • Is it just Valentine’s Day, or is there an overall decline?
    • What’s your opinion on this? Where did our gentlemen go?
    • How can you help the situation? EG New product that will help or SMS reminders because they are too busy, etc, etc.
  • Use attributed quotes – always. That is, put quotes in your stories from yourself and/or a source (such as a client).
  • Write short and punchy sentences/paragraphs.
  • Present tense – “he says he is” not “he said he was”. Journos will change this to their style anyway.
  • Add a case study, usually a client of yours so you control the story as much as you can. Give the journo everything they need to know and use.
  • Always supply a picture (but not too high res. Go for 1-2megs so you don’t crash their inbox. Reporters get hundreds of emails a day!).

 

Last paragraph

This is where the least important info goes (in they eyes of a journo). This might be the background of a business or a new product that is not newsworthy enough to be the story, event information or award details.

 

NOTE: You don’t need to a conclusion to sign off the story.

 

ENDS

Always finish the release with – ENDS – some people use ###.

(I like to rule off after ENDS)

 

 

Contact information

Give your name and number for further information. ALWAYS.

 

 

For example:

 

For more information, interviews and high-res images, please contact Elizabeth Campbell on 0427 366 824 or email liz@ecwritingservices.com.au

 

 

 

About
This is where you can give some background information on the story, business or yourself. Beware anything you send through in a release can (and will) be published if it’s relevant.

 

 

NOTE: I would never write a note to a journo in a press release, I would put that in the email body. Don’t ever say anything you don’t want published. If you do, always say (don’t write) “off the record”. You really have to think like a journo. Remember, they are all about the story what they think the reader or community needs to know.

 

 

 

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