Anyone in business with something to promote, or with a need to draw attention to a cause, sooner or later will probably be called upon to write a press release. I've been writing them for longer than I can remember and, while the basics haven't changed over the years, certain new considerations for composing them have emerged in our new digital era. Bear these pointers in mind the next time you find yourself faced with this task.

1. Plan in advance

Writing Press Release

When will this announcement be most relevant? You want to maximize the impact of any announcement, so press releases should generally be sent no less than ten working days prior to what you anticipate as the publication date. This also means that you must gather information, and create a photo or graphic well in advance. Try to get as many participants as possible together for a picture, or gather information from everyone about their role in the event. Caption every photo with names, left-to-right on the page. Don't leave anything to chance.

2. Ask relevant questions, get accurate information

If you need information in order to compose this press release, take the time to ask questions like, 'What should people know about this?' 'What are your expectations?' Make sure that all names are correctly spelled, and all dates and places are factual.

3. Get a quote

Nothing beats the veracity of an authoritative quote.Including a good quote from someone in the company, or close to the story, provides a human element to the press release. Don't miss the opportunity.

4. Create an impactful headline

Attention grabbing headlines, accurate but captivating, will bring the reader's attention to the body of the text. This should also be the email subject line which goes to all your publishing resources.

5. Remember the five Ws and H rule

Who is this press release about?
What will, or has happened that is newsworthy?
Where will, or did this event take place?
When will, or did this happen?
Why should anybody care?
How can they get more information?

6. Be concise

Provide all necessary information, and keep it interesting; but you must also keep it brief. Editors are pressed for space, and time. If you force them to edit, they may just not bother with it at all.

7. Include all contact information

At the top of every press release you should provide any and all necessary contact information. Your name, email, phone number, and website URL are essential. Without it, publication is very unlikely.

8. Use Keywords

This is still content that will be seen, at least partially, on the internet. Don't forget your practices as a content creator. This may not be a blog, but the same rules apply.

9. Provide links

Although you've minimized the amount of text, that doesn't mean that you can't provide more information to the reader through links to relevant sites. Also, invite the reader to join you on social media pages. Direct the reader to your website, where they can learn more. You may keep them coming back for more.

Whatever your purpose was for writing a press release, these practices will ensure that your intended readership will find and benefit from your efforts.

Do you write press releases? Do you have any particularly effective methods for getting the word out? We'd love to hear from you!

Gary Locke
By Gary Locke

A semi-professional hyphenate and the Content Editor for CommonPlaces. He has enjoyed a long career in theater and multimedia, and still hopes to one day drive the Batmobile.

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