The starter’s guide to writing a press release

In a society where attention spans are minimal (Did I lose you already?!), and a media news cycle that is even shorter, often the quickest way to spread news about your company — or a company you’re representing, as in our case — is through a press release.

If you have a PR firm on retainer or a communications team, then you may be able to skip this how-to guide. If not, follow these simple steps to create an interesting, attention-retaining press release next time you have news to share.

Who are you?

Put your contact information at the top of the page. This may seem like a no-brainer, but you’d be surprised how often this is forgotten. If people are interested in what you have to say and want more information, they need to know how to get in touch with you.

What are you trying to tell me?

Start with a strong, succinct headline that sums up the theme of the release.

As previously mentioned, people’s attention spans are extremely short, and they probably have hundreds, if not thousands, of other press releases they could be reading. Use the headline to capture their attention and convince them to give your press release a chance. If you are having trouble, browse a newspaper or magazine and take note of the headlines that draw you in and compel you to read further; use these as a guide for what works.

If your headline gets too lengthy, you can elaborate on it with additional details in a sub-headline.

Here’s the hook.

If the first line of a magazine article isn’t interesting, are you going to keep reading? Probably not. Support your strong headline with an equally powerful lede. Tell readers what the press release is about in an innovative way that shows how the news relates to them while simultaneously intriguing them and making them want more details.

Stuck? Use this trick: write the body first, and then go back and take a stab at the lead.

Give me the deets.

Ok, you’ve got me; I’m hooked. Now follow up your excellent headline and stellar lead with the details I need to know and that you’re dying to share. Really sell the story of your product/company/event, etc, and make sure to include all pertinent information.

If you are coming out with a new product, let me know where I can buy it, how much it will cost, when it will be available. Also include the inspiration behind the design, and whatever else you think will be interesting to readers.

If it’s about an upcoming event, tell me why the event is taking place, who is hosting it, and how much tickets cost. Be sure to say where to be, and when, or I won’t be showing up. And let’s be honest, if there’s free booze, you should definitely highlight that.

What’s the VIP have to say?

Include a quote from the president of the company, the creative designer, the mad scientist who invented your product — essentially the most important person in reference to whatever you are promoting. If you can have them submit a quote to you, then there’s one less thing on your checklist. Since press releases are written in the third person, this is the spot to add a personal touch.

Helpful hint: Quotes are an excellent place to casually stick in additional information you couldn’t fit elsewhere.

Bring it on home.

Let’s wrap up this baby. Add in any lingering details and round out the release. You can include how long the event will list, how long the limited edition product is available, etc. This final paragraph should be short and sweet — 3 sentences at most.

I have your contact information, but really, who are you?

After you’ve “brought it on home,” section off the end of the release and put in your company’s boilerplate. This is essentially the 2-3 sentences that appear in the “About Us” section on your website. This is essential for each and every release so that reporters know who is sending out this information. If you have a sparkly new, gorgeous website, be sure to link it here.

Interested in workspace? Get in touch.