And with that, you now have a complete understanding of how press releases work, how they should be composed and structured, where you should send them and even when. Hopefully, you will now be able to develop a great media relations strategy, that lets you get word out and craft the way that your image is seen online and in print.
copyright: Andrey Popov @ fotolia.comNow it’s time to start putting that theory into practice. In this section, you’ll find a simple checklist that you can follow each time you construct and send a press release. Refer to this list and you can ensure that every press release will be professional, effective and likely to generate coverage for your brand.
- 1. Content structure
- 1.1. W-questions
- 1.2. Facts
- 1.3. First things first
- 1.4. Main body
- 1.5. Further details
- 1.6. Contact details
- 2. Appearance of a press release
- 3. Text correction
- 3.1. Spelling
- 3.2. Grammar
- 3.3. Are the name and company name correct?
- 3.4. Are the numbers correct?
- 3.5. Are the links correct?
- 4. E-mailing
Remember, your objective is to provide all the information that a writer would need to turn your news into an interesting/useful story. Often this means answering questions and specifically, remember to answer the ‘W’ questions. These are: where, why, what and who. But not necessarily in that order …
Include facts and details regarding your business, the product, the service and whatever else you’re discussing. A list of facts should never take up the bulk of your press release. This should not be the first part of your press release. Instead, facts will follow on from the main event or they can be included separately in a ‘fact sheet’. Just make sure they are all present and correct. The assumption that you should always make, is that your reader knows nothing about your business or your products. They should have to do no additional reading in order to write the story – although if they’re good then they probably will!
First things first
So, what does go first? Simple: the gist of your story. The headline of your story should concisely summarize the news that you’re releasing. This should be enough to allow a journalist to decide from that information alone whether they want to read further and potentially cover the story themselves. Your first sentence and paragraph will then go a little further and expand on that initial statement.
Forget openers, forget trying to ‘pique interest’. And of course, make sure your writing is objective.
The main body of your release should expand on the information you gave in the title and first paragraph. Add additional detail and color, all while remembering to remain objective and detached.
Remember: your fact sheet can provide additional factual information. Likewise, a ‘backgrounder’ can be used in order to supply information about your business. Your boilerplate meanwhile is a simple paragraph explaining your business that you will use every time you use a press release. It will also likely be used elsewhere, such as at the bottom of your website.
This is followed by contact details. These should be contact details for your press office or a representative. In other words, you should consider setting up a separate email address for handling incoming messages from press and media so that you can handle relations. This should not be the same email you use for customers and clients and it certainly shouldn’t be a direct line to the CEO.
Appearance of a press release
Sender and logo
If the press release is being sent by mail or by email, then it can be a good idea to include the name of the individual or brand in the message. It is also a good idea to include a logo, which can help with brand awareness and help to better convey the nature of the business and the news, along with your boilerplate. This is an entirely different topic, but every business should invest some time in creating a professional logo. This can greatly help you to put forward a consistent message and to attract customers and clients.
copyright: BillionPhotos.com @ fotolia.comAlways include the mailing date in your press release. This should help your audience to better know that the information is relevant and new – especially through PR websites.
Press release in the subject
Include the words ‘press release’ in your subject header and that way you can grab the attention of the right people quickly as they check their messages.
Remember to include the embargo date in your press release. This will often simply be written as ‘for immediate release’ but in some cases, you may have a specific date before which your news cannot be announced.
copyright: beebright @ fotolia.comAlways make sure that your press releases are properly spelled. Spelling mistakes might be minor but they can undermine your professionalism. If in doubt, get a proof reader to double check your work.
Likewise, double check grammar to avoid awkward sentences or broken English. Try to adhere to AP style guides.
Are the name and company name correct?
There are certain things that are always worth double checking. Make certain that your details are accurate and that the recipient’s details are accurate in your message.
Are the numbers correct?
Double check all details and stats. If they are time-sensitive, make sure they are still up-to-date.
Are the links correct?
Including links back to your website is a good idea. Make sure that the links are still live.
"Press release" as subject
To reiterate: make sure that ‘press release’ is in the subject header so that your message stands out when journalists are glancing through their messages. Keep in mind that writers get a lot of messages!
Are the text wrappings right?
If you paste a document into a message body, this can sometimes cause awkward wrapping. Double check.
HTML or plain text
Decide between using HTML or plain text for your messages. The former can be more dynamic and engaging but the latter is less likely to bounce from the address.
copyright: sdecoret @ fotolia.com
Are the contact details correct?
Maintain your list. Double check recipients that bounce and remove them quickly to avoid having your address blacklisted.
Are the attachments correct?
There’s nothing worse than referring to a press kit that you forgot to attach! Double check before you click send!