Sending out your Press Release will help the media decide if your story is worthy enough of coverage. It’s very important to keep your press release simple and never use any hype. Stations and newspapers are looking for news, they’re not looking for a sale. You don’t want to send it out too early and then it gets forgotten or buried and you don’t want to send it out too late when other stories may have already been assigned and they simply can’t fit your event in. Generally, 2-3 days before your event is enough notice.
What should go into a press release?
Answer the following questions about your news:
- Who? Who are the key players — your company, anyone else involved with the product? Who does your news affect/who does it benefit?
- What? What is new?
- Why? Why is this important news — what does it provide that is different?
- Where? Where is this happening/is there a geographical angle/is the location of business relevant?
- When? What is the timing of this? Does this add significance?
- How? How did this come about?
How do I structure and present the release?
Timing — for immediate release or embargo?
You need to indicate at the top of the release whether it is for immediate release or under embargo and if so, give the relevant date.
Give the release a title
Under the immediate release or embargo heading, next give a title. The job of the title is to grab attention and encourage the journalist to read more. Don’t stress over what title might look good in print — most journalists/editors will change the title anyway if they use your release.
Use double spacing
It’s really important to use double spacing, with wide margins. This helps the journalist in making notes and helps present your Press Release more clearly.
How many paragraphs
As little as possible . You just need to get your points across. Avoid waffle and lengthy explanation. Keep the copy as tight as possible. Remember its a Press Release and not an Article.
You will need to get all the information into the first paragraph. The test of success is whether the story can be understood in its entirety if only the first paragraph was reproduced in print. This is extremely important.
The second paragraph expands on information in the first, giving more detail. Often, the third paragraph provides a quote. The fourth paragraph outlines final information, such as referencing websites and ordering, or mentions other products in development, for example.
How to end the press release
Signal the end of the press release with the word “Ends” in bold. After “Ends”, write “For further information, please contact” and list your details or those of an appointed person. Do give a mobile number so that journalists can make contact out of office hours. The more accessible you are, the better.
If any further points of information are needed, these can go in “Notes to editors” under the contact information. Examples might include background information on the company (called a boilerplate), or a note saying that photos are available. It’s helpful to number these points to make the presentation of your release as clean as possible.
Watch the Phone Calls
After you’ve sent your press release, you can call the editors at the newspapers or the producers at the TV stations to verify they receive it. That’s all you have to ask. Don’t ask if they are coming. Generally they will advise you when you phone. It’s also a great opportunity for them if they do have any questions.