We say here at the Garden Media Group that anyone can write a press release. But, there is a difference between writing a great press release . . . and getting it placed.
There are some tricks I learned while teaching public relations 101 at the University of South Carolina. Here they are:
1. KISS: Keep it simple stupid. That's your rule for the title of a news release. State quite simply what the release is about. Try and use a catchy headline to grab the reader’s attention, it should make the journalist want to read on.
2. Focus: Keep the release focused on a single topic. If it's too general or tries to cover too many topics, it won't get used.
3. Clueless: Write your release assuming the reader has no prior knowledge of the topic. Make it easy to read and informative.
4. 5W’s and the H: In any release you write you need to cover the:
The “What” you’re announcing and the “Why” is a big deal and should be the first questions you answer. These may have been touched on in the headline, but they obviously need to be fleshed out. The “Who”, “Where”, “When” and “How” need to be addressed also, but are deeper in the press release for a reason:
It’s less important information that takes a back seat to the main point of the press release.
5. Say something: Include quotes that are conversational and pertinent without repeating information.
6. Short & Sweet: Your press release should be no more than two pages long.
7. Boilerplate: Include a few sentences on what your company or organisation does.
8. Questions: Contact information should always be at the end of your release, it should be comprehensive, including contact number, web site addresses, e-mails and fax numbers.
9. Proof: Always proofread for grammatical and spelling errors. This is my big weakness. I make sure two other pair of eyes read my stuff.
10. Classy: Send your press release out on company letterhead and never use fancy borders or silly clip art.