Press releases aren’t always easy to do

Press releases aren’t always easy to do.

Getting the information can be a nightmare.

Putting it into a format that can be used is another matter.

Headlines? Got those right?

There’s some advice below but if you need to have a chat with a PR professional with many years of experience in media and media relations, then get in touch.

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How do I write a press release?

I was asked recently how you go about writing a release once you’ve got the story ideas. Here’s how you can write a press release.

While many people have different ways, styles and tones (often dependent on the organisation), this is a formula that works for public relations, particularly for SME PR or charity PR.

So, you’ve got your news, you’ve got the details following a conversation with all the relevant people. A huge puddle of details in fact. What to do with it?

A press release has to have a headline, an opening paragraph that hooks the reader in, the who, where, what, why and when, perhaps a quote from your organisation and any third parties.

The headline, make it snappy and interesting:

Firms warned to prepare for double-dip recession

Short, to the point. Want to read more? Yes indeed. Double-dip recession? Whoah. Could I be doing something to prepare for it in order to futureproof my business? Yes again.

Then your first par. Not too long or too many details – get the reader interested. Say what it is:

Insurance broker Delilah and Pepsi has warned SMEs in the East Midlands to ensure their business processes are watertight following news that the economy is heading towards a double-dip recession.

Second par, back up the first with details:

Bob Ullhatt, chief executive of the Nottingerby-based broker, has issued the warning following statistics from the Bank of Leicesterfield that show the economy shrank over the past two months, prompting fears that the country is heading back into recession.

Third paragraph. You could backup the second with more details of those stats from the Bank of Leicesterfield (it’s fictitious by the way, as is the broker Delilah and Pepsi – they’re the names of my two cats).

Or you could have a quote from Mr Ullhatt.

Mr Ullhatt commented: “The statistics are worrying and are not as many would have thought or predicted. The smart businesses though are the ones who are planning for the worst and who are ensuring that their business can survive in the current economic climate.”

And then perhaps a sentence or two about how those firms can futureproof what they do and what steps they can take to weather the economic storm.

I always end a press release with a web address or a number to contact at the business.

Now, this formula may not work every time, particularly if you’re putting together a complex article. If you have a more human interest story, then you’d do it slightly differently and tell the tale perhaps before hitting with the news angle.

It’s old school, but I often just plan my releases on a sheet of paper first and make sure it keeps moving, it’s telling the story, nothing’s repeated and I’m not missing anything out. I sometimes write the headline last too.

Oh, hang on. What was that about telling a story? I was always advised to write a story or press release as though I was telling a friend down the bar or at the gym.

If they couldn’t understand what you were trying to say, no-one else can. Never assume anything. Don’t miss something out just because you think someone else will already know it.

They probably won’t.

Important note here: if your release lacks the details, it may not get used. Reporters don’t have time to faff about finding everything out when you should have told them in the first place.

Also, make sure your story stacks up. If the figures don’t add up, if what you are saying is complete twaddle, be honest and don’t do the release.

The story has to be news and it has to make sense. A journalist will rip it shreds and your reputation will suffer. Again, hope this helps. If you need any advice, let me know.

Don’t forget though, that PR isn’t just about press releases.



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