How to Write a Press Release That Makes News (Detailed Version) Part 2

How to Write a Press Release That Makes News (Detailed Version)

How to Write a Press Release That Makes News


Starting With the Writing
1. Information to include in a press release

  • A compelling e-mail subject header and headline.
  • A first paragraph that covers the five W’s: who, what, where, when and why.
  • A short paragraph at the end of the release containing background information about the company.
  • Electronic contact information including an e-mail address for the press contact and Web site address of the company. Giving a phone number for the press to contact you is a better option because reporters working on deadline will often choose to call a company representative rather than wait for a reply by e-mail.

2. Steps to write a press release
Correct format of the press release is important because it conveys the necessary information in a readable, accessible and professional manner. Basic formatting should include a simple and easily recognizable format, and a clear presentation. The following is a checklist for standard press release format:

a. Title
Print the words “FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE” in the top left-hand margin in all caps. This lets the reporter know the news is authorized for publication on the date they receive it. If you don’t want the story to be made public yet, write “HOLD FOR RELEASE UNTIL ….” instead.

b. A strong Headline
Write a strong headline that gets attention but remember, you are dealing with journalists and they can be a cynical bunch. So do not go overboard.

Things to remember while writing the Headline:

  • The heading is a one line description of the event. It should be short and snappy.
  • It should be designed to capture any reader’s imagination, impressing them enough to read on and help the journalist to ‘see’ the piece in print.
  • After the ‘Title’, allow one spacer line and then write a headline using a combination of lower case and capital letters.
  • Keep your headline to ten words or less.
  • Do not write the headline in all capital letters because it is harder to read using e-mail software.

c. The location and date
Enter in your location or origin and the date to let the reporters know that the information is timely and relevant to them.

Example: “TORONTO, Canada – May 31, 2008”

d. The body
The press release body copy should be compact. Avoid using very long sentences and paragraphs. Avoid repetition and over use of grammar, fancy language and jargon.

There should be more than one paragraph, each paragraph no more than a few sentences. If there is more than one page, write “-more-” at the bottom of the page.

– First paragraph
Begin with a strong introductory paragraph that captures the reader’s attention and contains the information most relevant to your message. This paragraph should summarize the news release such that, if it were the only part seen by a reader, it would tell your entire message.

– Second paragraphs
The second paragraph should expand on the details. Remember the journalist will want to know what is unique or new about your story and why it will appeal to their readers. Then, back up your claims with facts and statistics in the following paragraphs. The second paragraph explains, in detail:

  • What the event is for
  • Who the event is for
  • Why the event is happening and why people should care
  • Where and when the event is happening

– Following paragraphs
The following paragraphs should contain more detailed important information, and make up the body of the release. Pick up with the information provided in your first paragraph, including quotes from key staff, customers or subject matter experts.

Try to keep the press release to fewer than 500 words total. The final paragraph should restate and summarize the key points of your release.

– About
It consists of a brief company background. This section should follow the following format:

  • The title for this section should be – About
  • After the title, use a paragraph or two to describe your company with 5-6 lines each. The text must describe your company, its core business and the business policy.
  • At the end of this section, point to your website. The link should be the exact and complete URL without any embedding so that, even if this page is printed, the link will be printed as it is.

– Contact Information
Provide your contact details so that you could be reached in case someone wants more information. Make it easy for them to get in touch with you and include the following details:

Contact Person
Company Name
Email address

Signal the end of the press release with three # symbols, centered directly underneath the last line of the release. This is a journalistic standard.