Our “Anatomy of a Press Release” series has arrived at its final installment: H, or the “How”. How you write your press release is critically important. You need to capture the reader's attention, clearly convey your topic and your company's benefit statement and offer a call to action (CTA) to generate interest. To do all of that, it needs to have text appeal.
Before we delve into the writing, let's quickly review the elements of a press release. Our previous posts in this series have covered the Who (Targeting), What (Format), When (Timing), Where (Distribution) and Why (Topic). You need to address each of these questions to have a comprehensive press release.
We followed the typical W's order, although the order you address them while preparing your press release may change. In preparing your release, first you might start with a topic, and then targeting to understand the audience, which may in turn dictate the distribution and timing and finally, the format which works hand-in-hand with the “H” or How to write the release.
Catching your audience's attention is key. The standard press release is very recognizable and formulated to deliver the required information to the media. The way you write it is what will make your press release stand out among the crowd. The most important elements are:
This is the most important piece of the press release. Deliver your news, make your hook, be provocative. You need to catch the reader's attention and make them want to read further.
Keep it short—Google prefers 72 characters or less—and use action verbs and clear language. If you find yourself with writer's block, here are a few tools to help you generate a great headline:
If you have a secondary point to make, use a sub-headline. Sub-heads should be one or two points. If you do have two separate points they should be joined by a semicolon so both points will be picked up by wire services. For formatting, you will generally see sub-heads in italics.
Don't play hard to get with your opening paragraph. Your headline caught their eye, now you need to pique their interest. Make sure your opening paragraph includes a quick summary of what you are announcing so that the reader could almost rely on just that one paragraph. The opening paragraph should include the following:
To add intrigue, go into greater detail. The rest of your press release should tell an interesting story:
This is a short paragraph, typically the same for most of your press releases, that clearly explains what your company. It's a high-level description that may include stats on the company, other locations, and website. You can find this at the end of the release usually with a heading: About Us or About “Company X”.
You will also find the contact person listed below for any media inquiries. Larger companies may also have a secondary contact listed from their PR firm. Make sure anyone listed is well-versed in the announcement and prepared to take calls or emails.
By now you have a grasp of the key elements that come together to form a great press release—from selecting a topic to distributing your news. As you develop or enhance your PR strategy, the ability to stand out from the pack will be critical to your success. We hope you can use the tips from our “Anatomy of a Press Release” series to make your company shine.
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