How Do You Write a Press Release?

Write a press release! It’s been the go-to standard for getting the word out so long we seldom stop to think about the question of why.

Are you doing it just to do it? Or is there some way that writing that press release is going to benefit your company’s image or bottom line? Before writing the first word, you should ask yourself this simple question.

What Is the Purpose of a Press Release?

“Getting the word out” may be the short answer to that question. But now comes the inevitable follow-up: about what?

A press release should only be used to:

  • Communicate important news about your company
  • Bring awareness of an upcoming event
  • Announce a new product or service, or any updates/improvements to an existing product or service
  • Highlight key personnel changes

You wouldn’t use one for the day-to-day fostering of community. That’s what social media is for! So now that we’ve got that covered, let’s examine how to write a press release in a way that resonates with the public.

Who/What/When/Where/Why/How

Don’t beat around the bush. Tap into your inner news reporter and give the Who, What, When, Where, Why, and How. Keeping them in suspense may work for fiction they’ve chosen to read. But you’re crashing their life-party with information they otherwise wouldn’t think about. Make it worth their time.

How do you do this? Let’s say you have an upcoming seminar on flipping houses. Your first paragraph should look something like this:

John Q. Agent (WHO) will host a free seminar on home-flipping (WHAT) on Tuesday, March 7 (WHEN) from Agent Realty, 123 Smith St. (WHERE). Agent’s two-hour lecture (HOW) specifically will cover how the profitable home-flipping practice can be applied to our area (WHY).

Add Data

Next up, you need to show why your audience needs to know about your announcement. Mr. Agent would benefit by following his lede — yes, that’s how news reporters spell it — with some industry information that backs up the need for such an event. This gives your press release a newsworthiness that distinguishes it from marketing-speak.

While there were fewer home-flips in 2018, the total volume of returns was up over $1.4 billion, revealing one vital piece of information: if you can master the art of the flip, there’s more money to be made than ever before. And John Q. Agent is going to show you how to do just that!

Personal Quotes

After dropping a nice bit of data like that, Agent himself might want to chime in with personal insight and expertise. This is where he pushes for an audience and tells said audience why they should be listening to him.

“There has certainly been some trepidation in the market, but that’s opened up a hugely profitable niche for those of us who know how to do it,” Agent said. “My company has successfully flipped houses for more than two decades, through good times and bad. We’re going to open up our box of secrets on March 7, and hopefully give folks this one particular key to financial freedom.”

Company Overview

To close out your press release, you’ll want to share some key facts about your company. Notice, in the Agent example, he didn’t read off his resumé. He just alluded to his company’s experience, gave a general number, and sold the sizzle of his seminar. Because it was a quote, we

Because it was a quote, his press release language was more informal. Company overviews do the same basic stuff with a more formalized approach.

Agent Realty has listed homes for buyers and worked with sellers of all stripes, with a specialty on home-flipping, since 1997. The small company has made a big impact on the local real estate market, selling more than $123 million worth of property during that time. For more information, contact info@johnqagentrealty.com.

How Long Should a Press Release Be?

There’s no hard answer to this. Long enough to give the vital information, including relevant data, a personal quote, and a company overview. The End. In the example above, it totals 223 words. That’s a pretty good length if your mission is to spread the word without taking up too much of your audience’s time. They’ll appreciate you for it and be more apt to listen to what you have to say as a result.

Edits

Your meaning may not be altered by a typo, but your authority certainly will and that’s true regardless of industry. Make sure you read your press release aloud. This forces you to say the words as they are on the page and not as they are in your head.

Once you’ve noted any corrections, make those adjustments. Finally, use an artificial intelligence program like Grammarly to catch any last-second foul-ups.

Format

Not quite as important as it used to be, but still something you’ll want to acknowledge if you’re planning on using a press release distribution platform like Cision. Read the platforms submission guidelines to know what to do.

Otherwise, drop the plain text of the press release into the body of an email and hit Send. News platforms, in particular, appreciate the simplicity because that means they won’t have to strip out weird formatting to use any of your words.

If You Write a Press Release, Remember This

It’s important you are as professional as possible in the language, facts, and presentation. Give a news outlet, magazine, or website something they can easily repurpose, and they’ll be more receptive to any future press releases you send their way.

And if this all seems too difficult or you simply don’t have the time to write a press release, consider getting professional help. That means someone with the writing skills, attention to detail, and press contacts, or capability of getting those contacts, so your press release doesn’t fall on deaf ears.

Best of luck whatever you decide. And if you need me, email aric.mitchell@gmail.com with your project details.

[Image by The Blue Diamond Gallery]