The press release has been an invaluable public relations tool since the first such release was written by Ivy Lee in 1906. Lee was a publicity expert and is widely considered the father of modern public relations. The tool he created to cover a tragic train accident in Atlantic City, New Jersey (USA) lives on today in both print and digital formats. You can take advantage of that tool by learning how to write a press release.
Press release writing begins by choose one of a handful of formats considered standard among professionals. You can find numerous format templates online. Then start writing. A high-quality press release that meets its intended objectives will include:
- a title
- a dateline (location and date)
- an introductory paragraph summarising the news
- a main body detailing the news
- a conclusion
- a boilerplate (‘about’ section)
- contact information.
How to Write a Press Release – Formal, Newsworthy Approach
As you write your press release, keep in mind that the tone should be formal and newsworthy. A press release is intended to be a release of important company news separate from direct sales and marketing. Appropriate topics for press releases include things such as:
- management changes
- location changes
- expansions, acquisitions, and mergers
- special events
- public-service announcements.
Just the Facts Please
A formal, newsworthy approach demands that press releases contain just the facts. Include all the relevant information necessary to convey the news at hand without any additional fluff. Includes names, dates, and times where appropriate. Also include links to websites if online content is relevant to the news.
If you can obtain a relevant quote from someone within the organisation in a position of authority, it will help add legitimacy to your press release. Direct quotes can be placed anywhere within the main body of the release.
Whatever you do, avoid any language that appears to be sales or marketing related. Modern search engine algorithms are sophisticated enough to detect such language. In addition, sales and marketing content disguised as press releases is open to search engine punishment.
Boilerplate and Contact Information
Finally, follow the conclusion of the press release with a boilerplate and contact information. Boilerplate information should be just detailed enough to let the reader know the basics of the company or organisation behind the press release without being too wordy or padded with irrelevant information.
Contact information should include a physical/mailing address and telephone number at minimum. If you can include an e-mail address and a web-based contact form as well, that’s a bonus. Do not leave out contact information, though. Doing so gives the impression that you are trying to hide something.
That’s it. Now you know how to write a press release. Follow a standard format, stick to the facts, and wrap everything up with a strong boilerplate and relevant contact information.