A Template for Writing a Better News Release

I came across this article from Ragan’s PR daily a couple of weeks ago, and have been meaning to share it ever since.  A few days after I was asked by a marketing colleague what she should include in a press area of a website for a new client, and how to create interesting content for it.  One of the things I impressed on her was the importance of writing a good press release.

So, rather than calling this post ‘101 ways to write a bad press release’, which was my initial title for it, I’m going to focus on providing a template for writing better news releases.

  • Keep it short: if you can keep it to a single page, journalists will thank you for it –  they will likely only read the first couple of sentences and the quotes anyway. They get tens, and in some cases, hundreds, of releases every day, so three page releases are a waste of time and effort.
  • Make it interesting/relevant: that means spending time on the headline and the lead line of the release. If it looks interesting and relevant you’ll increase the chances of it being read.
  • Give the journalists a story – quickly: it’s the whole purpose of the document and if you don’t do it in the first couple of sentences the release will likely fail to do its job.
  • Avoid a lead line that reads, ‘Company X, a leader in the…’: That’s not a story and a journalist is not interested in what you claim to be. If your company is a leader in what it does, they’ll know.
  • Keep it simple: ask yourself, ‘would my mother understand?’ If not, it’s probably too complicated [there are exceptions to this]. Even journalists that specialize in one particular area can’t be experts in every area of their beat, so make it easy for them to understand.
  • Make the quote quotable:  say something interesting, don’t just talk about how pleased you are about a deal, or how good you think your new product is. Journalists assume you think that… say something that will make them and their readers think.
  • Include a mobile number or twitter handle that will get them in touch with somebody from your company quickly.  Journalists work to extremely tight deadlines and the quicker they can contact you the more likely they are to do so.

Hopefully this gives you a few ideas. If you’ve got any other tools that work for you then please feel free to add them in the comments. I’ll be writing about how to optimize releases for online publication and SEO at some point soon.

One Reply to “A Template for Writing a Better News Release”

  1. Great suggestions Lyndon! I am new to press releases and I really enjoyed the tips about keeping in mind what is new and exciting/interesting to the reader (vs. you). thank you!

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