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How to write your first press release?

Even if you are not a Public Relations specialist you’ve probably already heard about “press releases” and you probably know that it’s a one page document sent to journalists and media people to inform them about an important news from your company. Writing a press release for the first time (and even the second and the tenth time) is not an easy task. Writing a good press release requires some prior knowledge that we’ll share with you in this article.

First of all, choose carefully the news you want to communicate on. Not every news is worth talking about. Knowing that journalists receive tens or even hundreds of press releases every day, having an exciting and worthy news to share with them will dramatically increase your chances to be covered. Always ask yourself: “if I were a journalist would I write an article about this news?”.

Now that you have carefully thought whether your news was exciting enough for an article or not, you can start writing your press release. But what exactly should you write in your press release?

In its structure a press release is a pretty simple document which is composed of:

  • A catchy title.
  • A short summary whose aim is to catch the attention of the reader by letting him know what you are talking about and at the same time teasing him so he wants to continue reading your press release.
  • The body where the journalist will find the details of your news (4 paragraphs are enough).
  • Medias that can be downloaded.
  • An “about” section in one paragraph where you explain what is your company and what it is doing.
  • Contact information: from email addresses to Twitter account, blog and website url.

When writing a press release there are a couple of important things to keep in my mind:

  • Keep your press release short and punchy. As we’ve said journalists are flooded by requests all day long so if they see a very long and dense press release, chances are high that they won’t even look at it. Keep it short and punchy, a good length is between 400 and 500 words.
  • Don’t oversell your product, your are writing to a journalist, not a lead. Try to stick to the facts, and be honest about yourself. Not every company or product can be “the first”, “the best”, “the leader”, “revolutionary”, “innovative”, “next-generation”, etc. Superlatives are widely spread in press releases, but they’re not fooling anyone – they might even hurt your credibility.
  • Answer the 5 Ws. To know whether you forgot something or not in your press release ask yourself the 5 Whys: who, what, when, where, why.
  • Focus your effort on the headline and the summary. The headline is the first thing the journalist will read and very often the last. If you manage to catch their attention from there you won half of the battle. The summary just below is almost as important. If you manage to write enough to excite them and not too much so they want to continue reading the rest of your press release, then you won 100% of the battle.

To learn more about how to write a great press release, you can also download our white paper here.

Thu 31 Oct, 2013 - Bertrand