A press release (aka a media release) is a public relations announcement sent out to the media and other targeted publications to let the public know what is going on with you and your business. It is a way to get coverage in newspapers, magazines, websites and blogs.
Before sending off your next press release, here is what you should know to make it effective:
Have a good reason to write and send one. A few reasons to send a press release: You are starting a new business, celebrating a business anniversary, launching a new product, you have received an award, or you are hosting an event.
Watch the length. If you are sending a hard copy of your press release, it should be no longer than two pages. If you are sending it electronically, it should be between 300-500 words.
Include contact information. This includes your (or the contact person’s) name, phone number, email address and fax number. You want to be sure the person reading can easily figure out who she can contact for more information. If she can not get in touch with someone, your information may lose its appeal, and you may lose the chance of being published. Be sure to include the date as well.
Use AP (Associated Press) Style. This is what journalists use; and by using this style, the editor will not have to change anything, which makes his/her job easier (and that is always good).
Create an attention-grabbing headline. Although an editor/publisher will likely rewrite it, your press release should have a good headline for two reasons: 1) It helps ensure the press release gets to the right person; and 2) It helps determine the content of the press release.
Include the basics. In the first paragraph or two, you will want to let the reader know the essentials: who, what, when, where, why and so what (why should the reader care).
Go into more detail about the event/launch/etc. After you have written the basics, you want to provide greater detail. For instance, if you are writing about your new business, you could talk about why you started it, what sets your business apart from others like it and its benefits. Also, something I include in clients’ press releases is quotes. These can make your press release more credible and give it more depth.
Include enough information. But do not give away too much. Your press release should act as a teaser, giving the reader just enough information that he or she will want to follow up with you. So, make sure the reader understands that there is more to the story. Additionally, be sure to include enough information that if a publication wanted to run the press release as is, they could.
Conclude with a boilerplate (i.e., more information about your business/organization). This information may not be included in a publication, but it helps the publisher/editor determine the organization and helps anyone who might be following the story. The boilerplate could be your company’s mission statement or its purpose.
Good grammar and punctuation. Be sure your press release is grammatically correct and has correct spelling. Having errors is one of the quickest ways to lose credibility. With that said, edit it a few times or have someone look over it before sending it.