How to write a press release

It’s easy to tell a story isn’t it?

In everyday life we tell stories all the time: from a recent holiday or night out, to a bedtime story (even if it’s made up).

A press release is a story – it is one way of relaying information to an audience, whether that be the local newspaper or a trade magazine.

So writing a press release should be easy then?

Yes – if you know what you are doing.

When writing your release you must include the most relevant information, answering these six points: who, what, where, why, when and how.

But there are quite a number of key factors – you need to take note of these points before you even begin to write.

  1. Know your audience – For example: If you are a florist and have just made a bouquet for the Queen don’t send the release to a Motor magazine, it won’t be used!
  2. Timing is everything – there is no point in reporting results from an event that happened three months ago, editors won’t run it. They want up to date, relevant news. They need to keep their readers.
  3. Finding the angle – go with the part of the story that is the most interesting, but be warned an angle that would suit a trade magazine is different to one that would suit the local newspaper. So you may have to write two versions.
  4. Don’t try to sell your product – if your release comes across as obvious advertising it won’t be used, you can pay to sell your products in all their glory but you cannot expect it for free. Reporters are very good at picking out over ‘egged’ releases and they will be immediately deleted.
  5. Keep it short and straight to the point – print space is tight so don’t overwrite, it will be cut – and it just may be the part you liked the most.
  6. Photos – If you have a relevant, media friendly picture then use it, it will heighten your chances of the release being included.
  7. Contacts – getting friendly with your target journalist is always a great idea, just as you need the publicity, reporters need the stories.

And the very last, most important tip, don’t make journalists roll their eyes when your release pops into their inbox.

There were many scenarios behind a reporter’s ‘angry eyes’ including:

  • Long winded releases that they have to work on for 30 minutes to cut down and make sense – a reporter is likely to delete most of these.
  • Don’t cap up things that don’t need to be – a ‘Project Officer’ may be an important part of the team but they do not need capital letters.
  • And please don’t invite them to a press event, with tea and biscuits, in Cardiff tomorrow when they are in Scotland – again these invitations were quickly deleted.

To recap: your release needs to be relevant and in date.

It needs to be sent to the right target audience and journalist friendly – a reporter will not spend 30 minutes making changes, they are on deadline so anything that is littered with grammatical errors and typos will be deleted.

Sounds easy right – NO?

Then ask the experts instead, that is what we are here for.