How to Write a Press Release and Get it Published
by Steve Nash
This article contains a checklist to writing a press release. And it includes the single most important ingredient of a press release, one that will dramatically improve your chances of getting your news published.
Firstly, let me say straight away that I am *not* an expert at writing press releases. Over the years, I have read and studied many articles on how to write a press release; I have then submitted my press release only to see them fail to get noticed by editors.
That’s not to say that the articles I read were poor – all offered good advice, but not in the format I wanted: a simple checklist.
So I created my own checklist to help me write a press release. A do-able step-by-step guide to writing a press release that makes writing the news release a straight-forward process.
And I was ready to write this article nine months ago, but something was missing from my press releases at the time – a vital ingredient – and so my press releases were still not getting published.
I am only writing this article NOW simply because my last press release WAS published, in several UK computer magazines. I am only writing this article NOW because I now know what the missing ingredient is to a successful press release (that gets published). It’s simple, really, *and* obvious! (Read on!)
Note: I’m still not an expert when it comes to writing a press release – you’ll find links to experts at the bottom of this article – but I am much more confident that my press releases will get published now. And you can be confident too…
=> Press Release Checklist
o Step 1 – What’s Your Story?
o Step 2 – Think Like A Journalist
o Step 3 – Mechanics Of Writing A Press Release
o Step 4 – Example Layout Of A Press Release
o Step 5 – Is Your Press Release Ready?
o The missing ingredient – K-I-S-S
o Appendix: Expert press release resources
So, what follows is advice distilled from many sources, organized in a way that allows you to follow the basic steps of writing a press release. (And you can always find out more detailed information, should you need it, in the Appendix!)
What also follows is the vital ingredient missing from many how-to articles, that improve your chances of getting your news published…
=> Step 1 – What’s Your Story?
1.1) Find your story, and develop it!
1.2) Position yourself as being different
1.3) Develop different angles
– holiday and event tie-in articles
– tips, articles, advice
– politically and socially important editorial tie-in articles
– new, unique products, Internet innovations and developments
– human interest angles
– interpersonal relationships on difficult issues
– unusual events, unique personal accomplishments, unusual
– humor and wisdom, fun and tragedy
=> Step 2 – Think Like A Journalist
2.1) What reasons would an editor want to publish your news (what benefits are there for them?)
– is it relevant?
– is it mildly interesting?
– is it newsworthy?
2.2) Make the main benefit the headline
– the only purpose of your headline is to get the attention of the editor, to get him/her to read your release
– write headlines from prospects point of view (use the words YOU, NEW and/or How To in headline)
2.3) Remember the subtext
2.4) Remember K-I-S-S (keep it simple stupid!) – write for scannability; write short, punchy paragraphs
2.5) Remember to answer: “Who? Why? What? Where? When? & How?”
2.6) Write the press release so it can be put into a magazine, with just a few simple edits
=> Step 3 – Mechanics Of Writing A Press Release
3.1) The Title of your press release is vital – some say that 90% of your time should be spent on your title; make it bold & boastful (hot and shocking!)
3.2) Opening sentence continues what you are talking about in the headline
3.3) Tell your story in headline and leading paragraph
3.4) Use specific, powerful (and true) testimonials – use convincing case studies
3.5) Use a powerful guarantee, and draw attention to it
3.6) – No more than 5 bullet points
– No .DOC files
– No attachments
– No HTML
3.7) Change passive words to active; use the words YOU; and link selling points
3.8) For each sentence ask yourself ‘So what?’ – remove if there is no good answer
3.9) Edit your copy ruthlessly, over and over again!
=> Step 4 – Example Layout Of A Press Release
This is a simple example of what a press release should look like (more or less):
Title – Headline
— Benefit (tell me more, 36-40 chars)
For immediate release
— What / why needed / how it will help (40-75 words)
— Include quotes
— Who aimed at (the facts) – who cares?
— Summarize; call to action
Full contact details
=> Step 5 – Is Your Press Release Ready?
1) Is your press release published on your website?
2) Better still, do you have an online press pack?
3) Do you know what to do or say if a reporter calls?
=> The missing ingredient – K-I-S-S
Phew! A lot to take in, I agree! The main trouble with doing all of the above is that your press release will be… L-O-N-G!
Yes, the vital ingredient to your press release, the one factor that WILL increase the chances of getting your news published is to:
Keep It SHORT Stupid (yet another K-I-S-S !)
Not convinced? Ask yourself these questions, then:
* How many of these press releases do you think editors get to read every day?
* How many long, badly-worded releases will they read before eventually becoming instantly put off just by the length of a press release?
* And how much more likely do you think a press release will be read if it’s a SHORT, quick read.
Keep your press release short, simple as that!
=> Appendix: Expert press release resources
If you want to know more about writing a press release then I can recommend the following resources (but do still remember to keep your press release short, eh?):
10 Tips For Better Press Releases by B.L.Ochman
Using And Writing Press Releases by Craig Lock
Publicity STARTS with a Press Release by Kate Schultz of
How to Write Press Releases that Get Published – Paul Krupin
* Press release distribution
=> And finally…
So there you have it – my checklist to writing a press release. If you need to learn more then do visit the above links. And then just make sure that you follow the checklist, and:
* have a story to tell
* think like a journalist
* format the press release properly
Do keep your press release short, then keep an eye on those publications – seeing your site in print is a great feeling!
Good luck, Steve Nash
Steve Nash is editor of a twice-monthly newsletter called Promote! Promote! Promote! Subscribe by sending a blank email to [email protected] . To learn more about writing good copy for your press release, website, email (or anything) visit Make Your Words Sell NOW! and learn from a net copy-writing master – myws.sitesell.com