A press release should be brief—just one or two pages—yet include enough details that a reporter could write a short article based solely on the information provided. The release should have an enticing “hook.” Good hooks include contests, survey results, industry trends, holiday tie-ins, or awards given or received. The trick is to make the hook interesting enough to capture the interest of a reporter, editor, or producer.
Be careful with your wording to avoid sounding like a sales brochure since that is a quick way to discourage the media from pursuing the story. Follow these rules to write a press release that gets the attention you want:
- Read several sample press releases before writing yours so you understand the proper format. Good sources for locating professional releases include prweb.com, www.businesswire.com, and www.prnewswire.com.
- Start with a proper heading that includes your contact information. When listing phone numbers, indicate a day and evening number (reporters may call at odd hours) or simply list your cell phone number.
- Give the release an enticing title that captures the reader’s interest, and print it in ALL CAPS WITH BOLD
- Double-space the body of your release for easy reading.
- The first paragraph should include the basics of who, what, where, when, and why. You want to lay the foundation and include your hook immediately. Remember that you want to engage your audience and prompt a response from the media.
- Determine the purpose of your press release. Is it to announce a special event, introduce a new service, or share valuable information with the public? Include the key points that make your story interesting.
- Use quotes from business partners, clients, or other professionals to give the release more credibility. As awkward as it may be, you may want to quote yourself as the author (since the press release will be written in third person).
- Incorporate keywords and phrases if distributing online.
- At the footer of the release, include a brief overview about your book and where it is available for purchase.
- Do not allow grammar or spelling mistakes to sneak into a press release. Make sure you edit your writing thoroughly and have a friend or trusted staff member review it for errors and content.
- If you’re unsure about how to write a release, it can be worthwhile to hire an experienced copywriter to help.
To send your press release out locally, start compiling a list of media contacts. Check the websites of your local newspapers, news programs, radio shows, and magazines for contact names and address information. Most media outlets accept press releases by mail, fax, or email, and typically indicate their preferences on the website or publication masthead. If you can’t locate press release instructions, it is best to email it directly to the appropriate editor. These days, email is a legitimate format for direct delivery.
Before you send your release, be sure you are prepared to answer interview questions. You may receive calls from reporters immediately and will want to have thoughtful responses ready. Consider writing a list of points you want to make and keep it handy.
Most people find that a press release can be worth its weight in gold when it actually works. A news story usually generates more buzz than any form of paid advertising. Don’t be discouraged if your first attempt doesn’t receive the attention you want; simply try again until you find the formula and pitch what works.