Generally, press release is also known as press statement. It is usually a written form of communication meant to be given to the news media in order to announce something in particular (it can be an event, a product or person).
Press releases are often snail mail, fax or email to the news media addressed to editors at magazines, newspapers, radio stations and television stations. For those who are not familiar with press release, you need to understand a little on the purpose and objective of delivering it to news media.
Press release is written by those from public relations field in order to capture media’s attention to offer publicity for particular product, service or event. Usually, press statement is delivered when a company has new product or service to offer and a particular event has just happened/ about to happen.
Press statement offers editors and reporters basic information to help them write and develop good news stories. Sometimes, press release is sent to the news media through snail mail if it is a form of invitation, personal promotions or awards and not in a rush to be featured in the media.
However, in certain situation if the story should be featured in the media as soon as possible, it would be email or fax directly to the editors. For example, a particular event is scheduled in the next two days or police announce important news to the public, then editors will rush the story once they receive the press statement.
Press releases can be categorized into few categories namely event release, general news statement, product press release, financial statement as well as social media release. Overall, press release consists several important features including headline, subheadline, dateline, introduction/lead, body content, conclusion, boilerplate and contact information.
Headline in the press release is important as it must be eye-catching and has the power to stop journalists from doing other things to read it and summarize the gist of the statement. Bear in mind that journalists are not helping you to get the desired publicity (which means reporters are not helping you to generate revenue).
Reporters are merely seeking interesting news stories to be featured in the media. Since reporters have to rush few stories daily, it is best to write short but yet catchy headlines. State the news in as few words as possible.
Next up, remember to include a powerful subhead to impress the editors and reporters. It offers you another chance to hook the reporter up with the press statement.
Writing a press release is not a creative writing class. Offer the facts and information in the lead paragraph. That means you need to squeeze answers to questions of what, where, who, when and why in the lead.
Then when you move on the body content, explain and clarify the event or product by including background and other important information briefly. Again, this is not a creative writing class. Thus, do not attempt to impress the readers (in this case, your readers are editors and reporters) with your bombastic and flowery language. The objective is to convey the information in clear and concise language. Support the content with other materials to demonstrate that the facts provided are accurate.
Remember to include release date of the press release. Besides that, the most important information – your contact information (name, phone number, email address, mailing address and person in-charge) must be written or printed clearly in the statement to convenient reporters to get in touch with you should they have any question.
Certain press release also includes boilerplate (background information on the issuing organization or individual) to convenient reporters to call them directly and ask for that particular person.
Here are some tips to write a good piece of press release – write from the third-person perspective. Do not use ‘I’ or ‘we’ in the press statement. Of course, unless it is a quote, then you may use those words. Stay away from those cliché words such as unique, state-of-the-art, breakthrough, interesting and the best.
REMEMBER, shorter is better. If you can write a one-page press release with all information included, then it is great. Reporters simply do not have much time to spend on one press release.
Try not to use jargon in the press release. Use it only if the term cannot be replaced with other words. And the best approach to write a good press release is to use active instead of passive voice. Using active voice helps to bring your statement to life and may increase the percentage of being read by editors and reporters.
If you are introducing a product or service in the press statement, try to relate to any of the recent social issues. Therefore, reporters can develop a better and good story to please the readers as well as their editors.