Headline: in order to have a fish you need to catch it first
First things first, your press release needs to have a catchy headline in order to be successful. It’s the first thing people will read and based on that, they will make their decision whether they want to read the whole thing or not.
Try to keep it short. This way, it’s easier to read, it looks more appealing and as long as it’s no more than 110 characters—people might even tweet about it. Make it fresh, newsworthy, and interesting, as the whole decision-making process takes about 3 seconds.
Lead: answer the five W’s briefly, but hold to your readers’ attention
The second most important part of writing a press release is to craft the lead. That’s exactly where the impatient ones will find the answers to the most important questions, including the five W’s: what the news is about, who is involved, when and where it happened, and why it is important.
When writing this part make sure you follow the “miniskirt rule”, meaning your lead should be long enough to cover the essentials, but short enough to keep it interesting. Don’t waste the journalist’s time—you have to pique their curiosity, not give them all the details at once.
Source: prove your trustworthiness
If you’re basing your press release on external sources, make sure to cite them. That way you will become more credible in the eyes of your audience. It’s essential to make sure whatever you’re linking to is legitimate, and not fake news.
We don’t recommend displaying the whole URL unless you’re citing your sources at the bottom of your press releases. Use anchor text to make your links look more natural.
Essentials: the beauty is in the details
Give your readers the essential details. And by details, we mean the basic information that is necessary to figure out why this press release is newsworthy. You don’t want to write a novel, just give a brief explanation and get the reporters excited about something they’ll write about.
My biggest tip for press release writing is to focus on how your product or service helps others. Because when it helps people, it helps journalists. Reporters are always focused on their readers and what they will be interested in. Sending in a press release that is totally focused on you isn’t going to cut it.
– Sandra Coffey, Media Publicity Mentor
Quotes: show the perspective of others
Press release quotes are always welcome. Why? They bring another perspective to the text and make it more diverse. Quotes can easily make your text more interesting and more readable, which should be good enough reasons to include them in your press release.
Additional data: is there anything else you need to add?
If so, this is the time to do it—without actually overdoing it. Remember, sometimes less is more, and that’s definitely the case when it comes to writing a good press release.
A photograph speaks a thousand words. I like to include at least one or two photographs with my press releases. In the old days, we just wrote and tried to wordsmith the perfect release as a news article with no visual content. Today, I would not dare send a release out without some visual anchor inside the press release.
– David Rudolph, D. Ericson & Associates Public Relations
Contact details: introduce yourself
Don’t forget to add contact details so journalists will know how to reach you, or anyone else worth contacting. It’s important because they might want to ask some additional questions about the story. If you forget about this part, the chances of getting your release published are basically slim to none.
Boilerplate: the perfect way to end a press release
In case you’re asking yourself how to end a press release, here’s your answer: have a boilerplate. If you caught the journalists’ attention and they kept on reading until this place, most likely they want to know more about you. The boilerplate is exactly the place where they will find any additional info about your company or you. Make it fun and interesting—it works as your business card, and you want to present yourself well.
Now, it’s time to double-check everything.
- Does it contain all of the above-mentioned elements?
- Is it newsworthy?
- Is it between 200-400 words?
- Is the heading catchy?
- Is it objective and not promotional?
Step 3: Press release format
Now that we’ve covered the press release structure, let’s focus on press release format. When it comes to press releases, it’s actually the same as with great food or an amazing gift—even if it’s outstanding but given in lousy packaging, it loses its value. In the end, most of us are stimulated visually, and that’s why the first impression really counts.