HOW TO WRITE A PRESS RELEASE

The power of good press is priceless for your organisation, but how do you get your company in it?

 

It all starts with a newsworthy story, and by newsworthy, we don't mean something you think is newsworthy because it's important to you. We mean something that genuinely, if you were to think independently of your business, remove your agenda and any bias and put yourself in the shoes of the person who will be reading that publication. Then you need to consider the competition. The competition for a journalists attention and for page space. What sort of stories do they usually cover? Where does your story rank against this? Is it national? Is it local? Is it business to business or business to consumer? These are just a few elements to consider, but once you've considered everything and you still believe it's

newsworthy, then you need to explain it succinctly, putting the hook forefront and centre. Journalists are time-poor, gone are the days they had time to trawl through your press release to uncover the story. In today's digital first world, it must be served up on a silver platter. So how do you write a press release?

 

There is a set format and structure to a press release for a reason. Journalists recognise it, and unless you have a story of such national importance, (think a Royal birth or death) you need a press release, and even then, if you want to control how your story is interpreted, you need a press release.

FORMAT OF A PRESS RELEASE

The following is better viewed on desktop. We know this isn't ideal. We are of course living in a mobile first world. Bear with us. We're a start-up and a small team, but we're working on it. If anyone would like more details on the below, please get in touch and we'd be happy to answer any questions on this.

Say what it is. This is a PRESS RELEASE

Always date the release with the day you are issuing it, unless you are using an embargo. If you resend a week later, make sure you change the date. No journalist likes old news. 

Concise title. Less than 12 words that can be elaborated on in first paragraph.

CAPITALISE your first word as this is good news style and will show the journalist you know what your doing.The intro paragraph must contain the hook. Is it new, a first, unusual, disruptive? This is what makes it news

Include any notable names - companies, people, organisations - supporting the event early on to add kudos to your story.

Continue to build on your story, including factual information. Each sentence should be able to stand on it's own. Short paragraphs will force you to write logically and avoid repetition. Think about the part of your story that particular journalist will find interesting and re-arrange your press release if you have to to make this point more prominent.

 

If you're writing a press release for an event, like this example, it is not enough to simply tell journalists the event is happening. On it's own, that is not news. Give the media a taster of what the event will be covering, the people involved, the topics explored and purpose or objective you're trying to achieve.

For example, Jumpers For Goalposts was the first ever two day football festival (FIRST and NEW) exploring all aspects of football culture including the much debated (RELEVANT) changes to the game through VAR technology, misrepresentation in the media, support of grassroots and the rise of women's football.

Bold out key words, or influential names involved in your event, campaign or other news story.

 

This example is longer than the average press release, but the short, digestible, paragraph structure made up of concise, to the point details makes it easy on the eye and easy for a journalist to skim through. Also, we picked out key topics that had the strongest news hook and created four additional press releases for each, ensuring they were 100% relevant to the journalist and publication.  

Include a quote from founder or other key member of the team. DO NOT start your quote with, "I/We are delighted/excited to announce..." It's a cop-out and doesn't add any value. Instead, start by thinking what your purpose is, or your hopeful outcome of said project. 

If your quote goes over two paragraphs, only close quotation marks at the end of the quote. 

It's also a good idea to get a quote from a third party supporting your product, service or event. It builds trust that someone else is endorsing it. 

Always make sure your quotes sound human. Read it out loud and ask yourself, "Is that really what I want to say?"

Sign off with necessary product or event details that don't contribute to the story, but are important for the audience to know in order to follow up with.

Always provide the journalist with a point of contact if they need further information and make sure this person hasn't just booked a 3-week trip to Bali. 

Always mark the end. 

This is called a boiler plate. It should contain information about who you are as a business and what your mission is. It's a place for the journalist to find out more about you and for you to explain things about yourself that don't naturally fit in the above release. It should be no more than ten lines / two short paragraphs

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