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WHY USE THE PRESS RELEASE?
Journalists rely on press releases to get ideas for their news stories. Write them well and you will get your share of news coverage. However, if they are poorly written with misspelled words, vague or inaccurate information, salesy instead of substantive headlines, not only will your release get ignored this time, but reporters won’t likely respond to future press releases from your organization or business.
TOP 10 FORMATTING TIPS
Always write your press release from the journalist’s or editor’s perspective. That means you have about 30 seconds to make your point, so make it clear at the outset. As a rule, they read the headline, the lead (first paragraph) and note the relevance to determine whether it will get covered.
- Number of Words – 200 to 300 maximum. You only need convey enough information to highlight key facts. When journalists call, they’ll ask for the rest.
- Keep the most important information at the top; least important at the bottom
- The top line of your release (above the headline) should have the name of your company (logo optional)
- Next line should contain the date in this format (March 2, 2016)
- Below the date should be your headline in boldface and larger font size than the text (for online news release the headline is usually the only thing displayed before someone decides to click.
- The next line is your city of origin in ALL CAPS – (Ex. ATLANTA)
- The next line is your “lead” – (first paragraph) the most important component of your release other than the headline – both give the essence of your news. Keep it to two to three sentences.
- Arrange the body of your press release into a total of five short paragraphs which makes it easier for editors to skim. Each paragraph should contain a maximum of 2 to three short sentences.
- Use bulleted points to convey key information
- Include links inside the release so readers can easily access related information (Ex. executive bios, product descriptions)
The last paragraph is called a “Boiler Plate” and should contain basic information about you or your business. At the very bottom of the press release include your contact information including name, mobile phone number, email address, website, and social media information. Some writers include this at the top of the release. Never send a press release as an email attachment unless requested by a news reporter. When asked, always send as a Word.doc format, not PDF. This makes it easier to cut and paste facts directly from your release.