Ten Tips for Writing Better Press Releases

By Jack LaRue 

Press releases can be a powerful brand-building tool for your firm, and they cost you nothing but time. Of course, this does not change one inescapable fact: someone has to write them. And unless you have a dedicated marketing staff, that someone is probably you.
 
As intimidating as it can be to stare at a blinking cursor on a blank screen, writing press releases may be less difficult than you think. To help you get started, I thought it would be helpful to share some basic tips for writing press releases.
 
  1. Start with a newsworthy topic. Your press release doesn't have to be earth-shattering, but do make sure that it contains actual news. Otherwise, you may end up with a sales piece or an editorial instead of a press release. 
  2. State the most important information first. Don't build your story. Start with the core information first, then provide context later. News writers call this the inverted pyramid format. 
  3. Stick to the facts. Avoid embellishment and excessive adjectives, which can make your release sound less credible. 
  4. Remember the four Ws and H. Who? What? When? Where? How. 
  5. Include a quote or two from a spokesperson for your firm.  
  6. Write the headline last. Yes, the headline is very important, but it will be easier to write a compelling headline once the press release is written.   
  7. Have an "About [Your Firm]" section at the end. This provides background information about your firm and its services, experience, location, and the like. Public relations people call this a boilerplate, and it should be limited to one paragraph. 
  8. Make sure your release includes an individual to contact, an e-mail address, telephone number, web address, etc. This can be provided in the header or at the bottom of the press release. 
  9. Make sure a fresh set of eyes reviews and proofs your press release. 
  10. Consider the timing. One of the most important components of newsworthiness is timing. Take a moment to consider whether there is a better (or worse) time for your release. 
 

Sample Press Release Template

[Your Logo Here]

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: (date)

[Title Here]

(Example: XYZ Inc announces launch of new website <>)

Description: (optional) This is a very short description about the press release. Some distribution sites will ask for this.

[CITY], [STATE],[Date]  - [This is the opening paragraph of 3-5 lines. It's considered the most important since it catches the attention of news readers and journalists. Typically, the questions of who, what, when, where, and why are answered here. Keep it short and highlight what the entire release is all about.]

[This paragraph gives more details of a product, services, or any events taking place. It should contain about two comments made by spokesperson(s). For example, Mr. XXX said "xxxx".]

[This paragraph focuses on where users can find detailed information. Provide a contact or website address. This paragraph should be concluded within 3-5 lines.]

[The conclusive paragraph, known as the boilerplate, should contain no more than 2-3 lines. It's a short "about" section that provides independent background on the issuing company, organization, or individual.]

Contact Information:
[Company Name]
[Address]
[Telephone]
[Website]

###

(This mark lets the reader know that it's the end of the article.)

 
Like any other skill, writing press releases takes practice. Press releases give you fresh content for your website and the opportunity to get valuable publicity for your firm. They can be an important part of your marketing message and building the brand and identity of your firm.
 
Related articles:
 
About the author:
Jack LaRue is the senior vice president, myPay Solutions, at Thomson Reuters Tax & Accounting.
 

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