How to Write a Press Release
A press release, sometimes called a news release is an announcement to the media of a newsworthy happening. Newsworthy is the key word here. Just because you have a new product doesn't mean that the news media will be interested in it.
The release below is for a book, but you can substitute product, software, or service.
Format for a Press Release
Immediate Release – and today’s date (or the date the paper should publish the release if it is time related)
Try not to have the headline be the same old, same old. New Book Released by Local Author. Or New Book Tells Why Your Kids Are Rotten. This is make or break it time. The headline is what will entice the reporter or editor to read your release. Use a headline like Five Reasons Kids Are Rotten: And What Parents Can Do About It.
(City you live in – Today’s Date) In the first paragraph answer the who, what, why and where. Sometimes that’s all the reporter will read. Don’t bury important information farther down in the release. You can expand on each of those factors, who, what, why, and where later on in the release.
Keep your approach newsworthy. Of course you are excited that your book is being published, but why should anyone else be excited. Reporters are looking for news. Stress the benefits to the reader. How will it improve their life, make them richer, smarter, thinner, or more beautiful. (Personally I always go for richer and smarter because if you’re smart, you can figure out a way to become thinner and more beautiful. And if you’re rich you can pay for it.) If the book is fiction see if you can relate the theme to today’s news or events.
Tips and guidelines are good ways to get your news release away from being too advertorial. See if you can come up with something like "5 ways to Increase Productivity" or "3 Tips to Improve Your Golf Game." Or "10 secrets to More Beautiful Skin."
If you include a quote, make it newsworthy not "We're proud to announce our latest widget," says Jim Brown, CEO. More like "I was so frustrated by always losing my ________ I knew there had to be a better way. That's when it hit me, I could attach a _________ to my _______ and I'd never lose it again," says Jim Brown, CEO.
At the end of the release center -30-, write END, or have a line of asterisks. That designates that the release has ended.
At the end of the release, below the -30- END or **** you can have a paragraph that is titled About (your company name) include a brief two or three sentence description about your company, it's url, postal address, and phone number.
The news release shouldn’t be more than one page single spaced. Although many smaller publications may print the release as is, most newspapers will want to use the release as just the beginning of their story.
Triple check grammar and spelling.
Send the release to as many of your media contacts as you can on a personalized basis. Never use a blind carbon copy if you’re using email to distribute the release. Never, never, never, use a cc list where all the names of the recipients are visible. It takes much more time, but send your releases out one at a time. Or, of course you can use our press release distribution service.
If you have a spam filter, send the release to yourself to see if it gets caught. Most filters will tell you why they filed an email as spam, then you can reword so it doesn’t get caught.