In the public relations and marketing world, we craft press releases (PRs) so that journalists in the media can find out about the stories we’d like them to publish. With this in mind, they must be both newsworthy and communicate your message clearly.
This news might include a product release, an event for a new site opening or a way to raise awareness about a certain issue. Press releases often also form part of wider marketing and SEO campaigns, helping with brand recognition, link building and more.
Journalists need persuading to publish your story, and you’re competing with hundreds of others doing the same thing, meaning knowing how to write the best release is key to cutting through the noise. So, when writing, ask yourself the following: Is it interesting? Would people want to read this? Who cares? Your press release should be attention-grabbing and engaging, but also easy to read and understand.
A key point to remember – The tone of any PR should be neutral and factual, usually written in the third person. If you’re unsure, try to match the style of the BBC and don’t put too much of your own opinion into the release. This allows the journalist to easily turn your PR into an article.
The basic structure of a press release
Headline: this is the first thing the journalist will see, so it should be snappy
- Under your headline, you’ll need a few bullet points that summarise the press release
- Add your key information and main stats here
- These are quick and easy lines a journalist will scan to find out more about your story
Opening paragraph: Think who, what, when, where and why – your opening line needs to tell the journalist what your story is about, getting straight to the point.
Main body: Here, start to expand on the key information within your story. Include your strongest stats and the most important information upfront.
As the PR continues, add more context to your story, as well as any supporting stats.
Expert quote: If possible, include a quote from someone relevant to the story, as this provides authority and credibility. Remember to include their job title or how they link to the piece.
Summary: At the end, summarise the key points of your release, and if possible, point the journalist in the direction of where they can find more information (include a link here).
ENDS – This shows the journalist where your release finishes.
What else should you include?
- Embargo date (if needed) – Sometimes you’ll want a journalist to wait before publishing a story, for example for a specific product release date, so you’ll need to add that in at the top.
- Notes to the editor – This should appear below the main body of the release, containing any additional information that the journalists might find useful, such as explanations of anything technical in the release.
- Contact details – Include the details of someone available for the journalist to contact with any questions or requests. If the person quoted in the PR is happy to give further interviews then this should also be stated in the notes.
- Images – If appropriate to your story, high-quality images should be used where possible.
- Citations – Include these next to any sentences where a statistic or data needs to be substantiated, and add them to the notes section.
What to avoid
- Not writing for the journalist – If you can, try to tailor each press release to a specific publication or journalist’s writing style, thinking about their target audience.
- A one size fits all attitude – Similarly to the above, one style may not work for every journalist. Test out different headlines or content to see which suits each publication best.
- A rambling release – While you can add all of your information into one PR and you don’t necessarily have to keep them short in length, you should still try to make sure that the copy is easy to understand, breaking it down into digestible chunks.
- Not thinking about the reader – If appropriate, consider answering relevant questions in your PR. Think about what readers would ask and add that to your body copy. This helps both the journalist writing the article include extra information and advice for the reader, which in turn helps SEO performance.
Now that you’ve mastered the art of the press release, check out some of our tips on how to improve your content writing, so you can craft good copy on every platform.
If you’d like to find more insightful articles on marketing, digital PR and SEO, take another peek at the It Works Media blog. Or, if you’re looking for help with your own marketing needs, get in touch, today.