Why write a press release?

In the digital age it might seem unnecessary to take a more traditional route to market your business or practice.

‘Can’t I just tell my friends and followers online? Do I really need a press release?’

Well, in short, yes you do. Sharing with friends and followers online works in some cases, but more traditional, professional outlets will definitely expect a press release. Some journalists and editors express frustration when they are  just tagged in tweets, for example, which rarely contain all the key information about an event. Busy writers will appreciate the information all laid out in one place, and it is a courtesy if nothing else.

It is a more traditional avenue of marketing, but it remains among the best ways to share your news with a broad network locally, regionally and even nationally. Plus, it sets you apart from those who just rely on using social media for their marketing. Of course, you can still do this too!

Other great reasons to write and distribute a press release include:

  • If it looks professional and has a great story it’s great for your business profile
  • People can read about the people behind your product, popup or service. Telling stories is key to building a loyal customer base.
  • Press releases aren’t just used for newspapers. Bloggers, freelance writers/journalists, tourism sites and what’s on guides are always looking for interesting content to share.

Here’s how to write a punchy press release in ten simple steps:

Beginning

  • At the top of your press release, include the name of your group or project, the date and the words ‘Press Release’ – journalists are busy so make it easy for them!
  • Add an attention-grabbing headline – a maximum of half a dozen words is ideal. Think like a tabloid.
  • Use warm, direct language – ‘we’, ‘you’: e.g. We are delighted to invite you to… Try to steer clear from cliched openings however! The first paragraph should be a short one (just one line is good) outlining the story in an interesting way. Use bold formatting to make this stand out from the page and grab interest. If you don’t get attention now, your press release will end up in the bin. Even if your piece eventually gets turned into an NIB or ‘News in Brief’ at the side of the page at least there is interest – countless press releases fall into in the unread category!

Middle

  • Follow up with some background … and then lead into the story. Explain what’s happening and why it’s of interest to readers. Your press release should be between 300 – 400 words. Too short and it won’t get good coverage: too long and it won’t get read.
  • The press often like to have a quote – so restate the most important facts, as a quote from someone directly involved in your project. You want your contact details to be part of the story – so make sure to include them in a way that they’re relevant to what’s written before and don’t get left out.

End

  • Make it clear where the story ends and that any following information is additional and for the press only. Using ‘ENDS’ at the end of your release is standard and easy to understand. Add your contact details and any ‘Notes for Editors’, like the background to a project, or a brief history of a venue at the bottom.
  • It is so important to offer at least two high resolution and well-lit photos to match the story. It is best to both provide one yourself and invite the press the chance to take their own. A good picture really makes your story stand out on the page. Offer interviews or live broadcast ideas for radio and TV.

Sending your press release

  • Sending your press release: If digitally, include fun, key, hard-hitting information in the subject title of your email.
  • Know your audience: make sure you’re sending the release to appropriate people and publications. Editors and freelance writers are super busy and get bogged down in full inboxes by what can amount – for them – to spam. Targeting appropriate and interested parties will optimise your reach and, ultimately, the message.
  • Send in timely fashion. If too late, even if your story is of interest, you could miss the boat. Telling a writer early enough gives you a degree of priority over stuff hitting inboxes too late.

There are many places to refer to good examples of press releases online. Tate often have interesting and well written press releases to read here

Free download press release template

You can also download our press release examples below:

Press Release Template – Word document

Press Release Template- PDF document

 

Illustration by Bel Burkill