The press release is the cornerstone of a public relations strategy. It would not be possible to conduct any meaningful public relations activities without it.
A press release is a standard and universally accepted way to communicate to publications that could be keen to cover what it is you are sharing. Although the topics a journalist can hear about vary greatly, the press release format in which they are sent should not.
You want what you send to be instantly recognizable as a press release and as something a journalist should want to cover. What you don’t want is to confuse them by sending your own version or something hard to discern. A press release takes seconds to scan over, and those which are hard to read will be ignored.
Put yourself in a journalist’s shoes, if you received as many press releases as them, you’d do the same. So this doesn’t happen to you, let's look at the standard press release template you should follow.
Whilst there may be disagreement about the best place for your company logo, there is no disagreement that it belongs on your press release. A small color logo reinforces your brand in the mind of the reader and helps them recognize you. It also adds a sense of professionalism, so be sure to include it. Your basic company contact details and address should also be at the top of the page.
This is the first sentence of your release and the most important part to get noticed. it needs to be attention-grabbing and ‘summarise’ the reason you’re writing a press release. At the same time, do not make it sound too ‘salesy’. Remember, nowhere on your press release are you trying to sell something. Using exclamation marks or an extra big font also puts people off. Think carefully about how to make it both compelling and to the point. It needs to reflect the newsworthy angle of your release you wish to convey, and draw people in.
The sub-heading is more specific and explanatory. It gives you the chance to pack more of a punch at the top of the press release, and expand on the actual headline. Take the time to carefully follow up on this with more information to tease the reader on what to expect and why it's worthy of their time. Think about the most interesting parts of your announcement and what would make you want to read more. What would spark your curiosity? What would impress you the most about your story? Try to give a minimum of 1-2 reasons as to its significance. Also, make it in a slightly smaller font than the actual headline.
You will start the main page of the press release with the location and date of the announcement. This is standard. This is in bold and followed by a dash. The text that follows (the body) will not be in bold, however.
The first paragraph should be used to introduce the main points of the story, answering the who, what, where, when, why, and how of the press release. The ‘why’ and ‘how’ usually come last. By using the 5W’s and the 1H, you give the reader a snapshot of the article and let the journalist answer ‘how is this relevant to my audience? It is commonplace now to include hyperlinks to your company website or some other form of interactive material.
It is also a way to get traffic to your company website and encourage journalists to read more about you and find the information needed to cover their angle of your story.
Expand on the introduction paragraph and give further background information. Don’t go outside of the basic facts here, and avoid trying to sell your product or service. Instead, explain the significance of the news and how it is valuable and relevant to those who may be interested to hear about it. This covers the foundation of what follows.
It should focus on the newsworthy angle of your story and provide enough detail for a journalist to develop the angle further. You should try and make this as easy as possible to do. Try to stick to very short paragraphs of approximately two to four sentences. The text here should be single-spaced and in a normal non-italicized or bold font.
Statistics and quotes are important for backing up your claims. Be as specific as possible and the more relevant the quote, the more credibility you gain. For instance, a press release about a new product launch would benefit from a business leader in the relevant field positively talking about your product and why and how it helped them.
Quotes can help you demonstrate the importance and relevance of your news. Whilst it is recommended to use quotations, only include a quote if it strengthens and adds to your story.
The final part of your press release is named the ‘boilerplate’. It acts as your company’s “about” section, providing your company’s background, any awards won, or anything else of interest about your company that supports your proposition. Try not to go over 100 words here.
It needs to be as easy as possible to contact your company for more information. You could say ‘Please direct any inquiries to…’ or ‘for more information contact us using the details below. This is sufficient as a call to action. A phone number and email address are also enough.
It is wise to include an end notation at the very bottom of your press release. This confirms the end of the document and that they’ve accessed it all. If your press release does go beyond a page, then it’ll be necessary to add the comment ‘more’ at the bottom center of the page. The final page (whether 1 or more pages) should end with three-centered hashtags, like this: ###.
The fact that a press release follows a template should make things easier. As you get more rehearsed in writing press releases, the more transferable the templates will become and the stronger they will be. If however, this is still a bit daunting or you don’t have time to write press releases, then there is no need to panic. There is always the option to leave it to the experts and to contact PRlab to help get you started with this important task, and get you on your way to creating press releases that attract attention.