There are a number of important things to bear in mind when writing a press release—the importance of keeping it succinct and of avoiding exaggerated claims, of tailoring it to your audience, and of proof-reading it for errors and mistakes.
If you’re penning a press release for your organisation, here are a few tips to get you on your way. If you have a tip or two, feel free to share, and, if you get stuck, please get in touch.
- Devise an engaging headline that tells the essence of your release in no more than ten words, if possible. It should do exactly what it says on the tin (i.e. communicate the news development).
- Have the key items of information that you want to get across in the first paragraph, so that if only the first paragraph of the release is used by a journalist, they have the key information. Think who, what, when, where, why!
- Use plain English, write in the third person and avoid jargon. Resist the temptation to use industry terminology or, where this can’t be avoided, explain it. Be clear and concise, not wordy, avoiding repetition of words, ideas or phrases. Use short sentences and paragraphs.
- Steer clear of exaggeration in the content and be factual. The quote from your MD or CEO will have scope for greater flexibility in terms of offering a view on the importance of a new development but, outside of quotes, your content should be based on fact.
- Include a testimonial quote from a user of the service that you are promoting, e.g. a client, a service-user, etc.
- Tailor your release to your audience. A local media release should reference particular connections with that area or services being provided locally. A health media release will have scope for greater depth around the science aspects of a research development that would not normally feature in a national media release aimed at the lay reader.
- Double check people’s titles, dates, phone and website details to ensure that they are correct—you really don’t want to get these wrong, but you’d be surprised how often it happens!
- Include your contact details so that if a journalist has some questions, they have your information easy to hand.
- Put the date at the top of the release, insert the word “Ends” to indicate where the release information concludes and to separate this content from items such as your contact details. You might also include a “boilerplate” at the end of a release—information and stats on your organisation that do not fit naturally in the main body of the release, but which can be useful for a journalist by way of background. This can include other services provided by your organisation, where it operates, number of staff employed, etc.
- Do a spell-check of the release and review for grammatical errors. Ask someone else who is competent in this area to review the release also and to provide feedback. Then read it again.
Best of luck with landing your release.