If you have some news you would like to tell your local or trade press, you could write your own press release. Naturally for a proper PR campaign you might want to hire a PR consultant but here are a few handy tips from the expert Hazel Scott, Director of Kai Communications on how to write your own…
A press release should always be announcing news otherwise it becomes just a feature article. News could comprise new products and services, launches, personnel promotions, awards, sales accomplishments, etc. It is a fundamental tool of PR work, but does require being in a particular format if to be taken seriously.
Before you write your press release:-
~ Consider your target audience.
~ Decide what your news angle is.
~ Decide who your spokesperson will be.
~ Avoid jargon or specialized technical terms.
~ The timing of the press release is very important. It must be relevant and recent news, not too old and not too distant.
~ Understand that this is not an opportunity to glowingly praise your own business, it is a presentation of facts on something newsworthy. Words such as ‘fantastic’, ‘excellent’ etc. should be avoided except in quotes by a spokesperson when relevant.
~ You or your spokesperson must be available for comment, e.g don’t issue a press release and then go on holiday for two weeks!
1) THE HEADLINE
- The headline should be brief and eye-catching. Headlines should be a grabber to attract readers.
- Headlines should be written in capital letters, bold and in font size 14 preferably.
- Above the headline you should have the business logo, a second heading clearly marked “PRESS INFORMATION” and the press release should always be dated with the date it will hit the journalist’s desk to give it a ‘today’s news’ feel.
2) OPENING PARAGRAPH
- The lead, or first sentence, should grab the reader and say concisely what is happening. The next one or two sentences then expand upon the lead. In a fast-paced world, journalists will not read the entire press release if the start of the article didn’t generate initial interest.
- A journalist will make a decision as to whether to read on depending on their interest in the first paragraph (if the headline was interesting enough to make them read the first paragraph).
- At its simplest, the first paragraph should comprise ‘Who, what, when, where, why, and how’.
3) THE PRESS RELEASE BODY
- The press release should be written as it would appear in a newspaper.
- Avoid using very long sentences and paragraphs.
- Avoid repetition, jargon and over use of fancy language.
- Deal with actual facts – events, products, services, people, targets, goals, plans, projects.
- The length of a press release should ideally be no more than two pages. If you are sending a hard copy, text should be 1.5 spaced ideally.
- Include relevant information about the company such as how long the company has been running and in short what the company does.
- As soon as possible state the company’s web address, although not in the opening paragraph e.g “The launch of Kai Communications (www.kaicommunications.co.uk) two years ago….”
- Always have a quote from a spokesperson e.g Hazel Scott, Director of Kai Communications says: “We are delighted to have won this award etc..”
4) THE END OF THE PRESS RELEASE
- Always use the words “ENDS” to mark the end of the press release. Anything after that is only notes for the journalist.
- Add contact information. If your press release is of interest, a good journalist will want more information and possibly to set up an interview or ask for pictures. Contact details should include name of contact, telephone number and email address.