The Art of Writing Press Releases
Perhaps one of the biggest challenges you’ll face when trying to get attention for your cause is, well, getting attention for your cause. With so much competition for the spotlight, getting anyone to take notice of your issue might seem like mission impossible.
If media and press coverage for a specific event or campaign is what you’re after, crafting a strong press release is a great place to start. Why? Because it’s the “official” way to share news and info with the media. Press releases are short and sweet, easy to digest, and contain the key information you want to get across in as few words as possible.
Learning how to write a press release isn’t rocket science, but you will want to follow these guidelines so people take your release, and your cause, seriously:
- Always Start with 3 Simple Words…For Immediate Release: This is standard press release lingo, so stick it on the upper left margin in all caps.
- Grab People’s Attention with a Powerful Headline: Just like a newspaper headline, this is the first thing people will read. It’s centered at the top, in large, bold lettering, and should include the key point you want to get across. Think news lead.
- Include a Dateline: Write out the city, state, and date at the start of your first paragraph. A typical dateline looks like this: SEATTLE, WA – April 1, 2011.
- Share the Big News: Write a tight paragraph (or 2) that tells the story you want to share. Go back to English 101 basics and make sure you’ve covered the 5 W’s (and 1 H) – who, what, where, when, why, and how. Every word counts, so be sure to edit and revise until the writing is as strong as it can be! Oh, and if you write more than one paragraph, don’t worry about indenting – just skip a line between paragraphs to break up your text.
- Add Info About the Company or Organization: If the event or campaign you’re promoting is associated with an organization, include a sentence or two about the organization so readers know who and what is behind the campaign. These standard organizational tags are sometimes known as “boilerplates,” and go below the main content of the release.
- Give Readers a Contact: The last text on a press release should always be the name of a person or people who can be reached for more information. When including contact info, don’t forget a name(s), email, phone number, and website.
- Signify the End of Your Release: Stick three number symbols (###), centered, at the very bottom of your release, to indicate the end of the content.
- Send It Out! Send your press release out by email to anyone you think might be interested. If you want a better response, add a personal note so the email recipient doesn’t feel like they’re getting spammed as part of a mass email campaign.
Download a sample Heart of Gold Press Release Template here!