The Eight Things You Need To Know About…
How to write a successful Press Release is a question I get asked often. Like anything else, once you know the guidelines, it’s really easy to write an effective press release. You’ll find it has one of the highest R.O.I. of anything you can do for your company.
1 . Format: Follow the standard format! Everyone who receives press releases expects to see the same format right down to the “# # #” at the end of the release (the “# # #” is from the old days of the teletype where it meant end of transmission.) Look at the partial example below and go to www.LonSafko.com, Articles (top right) to download the entire example;
• “Press Release” These words need to be at the top center of your page, in bold, and Title case (where the first letter of each word is capitalized).
• “For Immediate Release” This is plain text and Title case.
• “Contact” This is one or two ways they can contact you, your company spokesperson or the person with the most information. Also, be sure to provide an after hours number so when that late night deadline hits, they can reach you after 5:00 PM.
• “Web Address & eMail Address” Provide your web address and the email address for the Contact person.
• “Dateline” This is the date the release can be released. Sometimes, the press release can got out a week early to give the reporter or editor time to prepare for a future date, but no information should be released before that date.
• “Headline” The Headline should be all caps, and two lines below the Dateline.
• “Sub-headline” (optional) Use Title case on this text and underlined. And,
• Start the Text with your city and state (province)… (ellipsis).
For Immediate Release
For more information contact:
Lon Safko – Mobile: 480-266-1200 or Office: 480-507-9900
September 2, 2005
SMITHONIAN INSTITUTION ACCEPTS ARIZONA TECHNOLOGY COMPANY INTO PERMANENT COLLECTION.
Craig Orr. Senior Associate Curator and Archivist for the Museum is coming to Phoenix on September 6th, 7th, and 8th to gather materials for the collection.
Phoenix, AZ …Safko International, Inc. a company that came to Arizona as a two-man team, working out of a garage grew to more than 25 offices around the country…
2. WII-FM – What’s In It For Me! WII-FM has to be in every line. Remember, the WII-FM isn’t just about YOUR customers when you write your press release; it’s about the recipients customers. If it were a trade magazine, what would be in your information that would benefit the readers of that specific magazine? What “take-a-way” would the listener of that particular radio station get out of your message. What service would the television station provide its viewers with your information? Make sure the first 10 words of your release are effective. They are the most important.
Notice: In the example above the WII-FM in the title was the name-dropping of “Smithsonian”, “Technology” (tech editors love this stuff), “Company” (can we say, business editors), “Permanent Collection” positive, strong wording and good terminology.
Notice: The sub-title is also a “hook” for visual media. The three dates meant that they could shoot footage of the story with what they call “talking heads”, and they have an actual name of one of the heads. The “gathering materials for their collection” conjures up that image, which will play well on television.
3. Content: When you are writing your content, remember your 5th grade English… “Tell them what your going to tell them, tell them, then tell them what you told them” or in proper English, “Introduce the thought, communicate that thought, then summarize that thought”. This technique needs to be applied to the entire document, then to each individual paragraph.
The entire document will have one consistent message. The lead paragraph needs to introduce that overall message and catch the reader’s attention (WII-FM). It also needs to address the five W’s of Journalism (who, what, when, where, why). The body of the press release needs to clearly convey that message detail. Then, the last (closing), paragraph needs to summarize the overall message.
Each additional paragraph needs to be written in the same manner. The lead sentence introduces the concept of that paragraph, the next two sentences convey that concept in detail, and the closing (summary), sentence needs to summarize the concept of that paragraph.
Be sure to avoid excessive use of adjectives and fancy language. Deal strictly with the facts.
4. Be sure to add your URL! Put your web site’s URL in the heading (not Headline), and throughout the press release content. This gives the reporter / editor a place to begin their research but, even more importantly, when it’s picked up electronically on the web, the www.Whatever.com, creates a clickable link back to your web site, AND it gives you “External Reputable Links”, and if you attended my SEO / SEM Conference, then you know that this is the most important item you can do in Search Engine Optimization to have you web page come up first in all search engine organic listings.
5. Company History: Somewhere within your copy you need to summarize your company’s history. It needs to be brief and summarized in one paragraph. This puts the newsworthy information and your company in context.
6. Bullets: Be sure to provide bullets for the “A” Type reporters and editors. Nearly all reporters and editors are “A” Types. Remember our “A” Type / “B” Type personalities discussion from our conference and what they look for on your web page?
7. Keep It To One Page: Try hard to keep the press release to one page. This way you are forced to keep it succinct, you don’t overwhelm the reader before they start, and page two can never get lost. If it has to run more that one page, use “- more –“ at the bottom of page one in place of the “# # #”. Remember to still put the “# # #” at the bottom of the text on page two.
8. SPELL & GRAMMAR CHECK! SPELL & GRAMMAR CHECK! Nothing turns a person who spends their life being critical of spelling and grammar off more than spelling and grammar errors. It also shows your attention to detail and how you prioritize this information and your relationship with them.
That’s all there is to creating a successful press release!
Here are some great web resources that will help you write and distribute a successful press release. Some of the links are designed to help you write, some will distribute your press release for free.