No News Equals No Leads
How to Write a Press Release
That headline got your attention right? When it comes to writing a press release, you need to grab the readers’ attention so they will keep reading and receive your message. Start with a headline that piques interest in the subject. Next, write an opening paragraph that summarizes your message. And finally, get to the heart of your release. Don’t let writing a press release intimidate you! Simplify your writing process using the following tips.
Know Your Audience and Your Purpose
Before you can write a press release, you need to determine who your audience is and what you want to achieve with your release. Do you want to create awareness about your foundation? Inform the public about a new study? Or, pitch an event?
Once you have identified your desired outcome, you can determine your key audience. For example, if you needed to pitch a story about a special event involving farmers, you would target the press release to appeal to trade media such as Farm Bureau, as well as local media in the area where the event is taking place. A story must be relevant to the media outlets’ readership in order for a journalist to take interest in the work.
Lead with the News
Once you know your audience and the purpose of your press release, you will need to develop a strong headline and a two-three sentence lead. How is the story you want to tell newsworthy? If you were your target audience, what are the key details that you would want to know? On average, you have 8-10 seconds to catch someone’s attention, so your headline and leading sentences have to peak a journalist’s interest, be newsworthy and sell your purpose.
Write the Story for the Reporter
The body of a press release should be organized, formatted in AP Style and written as if it is ready to be printed in a paper or posted online without edits. In fact, some reporters will simply post a well-written release without making any changes. This is your opportunity to have your message published exactly as you want for your key audience to read!
You should include at least one strong quote from someone directly related to your story or cause. Quotes add validity to your release, can help readers connect to your cause or story and provide journalists with an additional source.
Keep it Short
A well-written release should be no longer than one page. Remember, you are trying to give a busy reporter as many hard facts as you can while still being concise.
Include Contact Information
Don’t forget to include your contact information at the top of every release. This information will allow journalists to easily reach you if they have additional questions.
Don’t Forget the Boilerplate
At the end of every press release, you should include a brief summary that describes the organization or company for whom you are writing the release. This is called a boilerplate. This summary should not exceed six or seven sentences and should be included on every press release used for the company or client.
Following these tips will help ensure that you write a succinct release that catches the eye of journalists and ultimately garners news coverage for your cause.
Be sure to check back next month to read our next blog post, How to Pitch Your Press Release to the Media.