Writing a Press Release in English
Press releases. You’ve heard of them. Maybe you’ve written a few, or many. In any case, you know they are critical to communicating your company’s breaking news — information about events, achievements, and products — to the public.
As with any piece of writing, there is a fine line to walk between excess and dearth in order to do it just right. The Goldilocks provision, as it were.
Here, we’ll discuss a few aspects of press releases and note a few tenets for you keep in mind while you’re writing your own.
First, make sure that the subject of your envisioned press release is newsworthy. Upon confirming this with yourself, outline how you will present the information. In the outline, answer: Who/What is concerned; When; Where; Why it is relevant, Why it is unique, and Why should it be published by the news agency to which you plan to send it; and to Whom you are writing, in order to know your target audience. Once these are clear to you, begin writing.
The headline (and the subject line of your email) should be concise, descriptive, and intriguing. It is the gateway to your target audience and should encourage the recipient to keep reading. Use alliteration; frame the information paradoxically; let the topic of the press release speak for itself; include relevant keywords. If the headline is done well, it will provide answers to at least a few of the questions mentioned above and will do so in an inviting manner. Understand not only what the initial recipient may value in deciding whether to keep reading (as he/she perhaps receives hundreds of such releases in a day), but also what your target audience seeks or would seek regarding the topic; understand their interests and concerns. The headline is a billboard: let it speak.
In writing the body of your press release, consider the rules of good journalism. Begin with a lede: summarize the most important aspects of the story, and in doing so, answer directly and in full the questions mentioned above (Who, What, Where, When, Why/How): About Whom is the press release concerned, and Who/What is your company? What is the topic, and Why/How does it matter? When and Where is the subject of the press release taking place, and Where is your company located or currently working? Write in the third person, unless quoting: this bolsters the objectivity and in turn the perceived professionalism of the release.
After the lede, fill out the story with more detailed information quotations, implications, et cetera. Think of it like a pyramid being built from the top. Upon reading the title, the reader should be able to understand the release’s general purpose; upon reading the first paragraph, the reader should be able to explain the release’s subject briefly to others. Remember to keep it succinct: this is an announcement advertising the relevance of your news (which at this point better have substance, if you’re ready to send it to news agencies!).
That said, make sure you’re providing all the relevant information so that there are no aspects unnecessarily left to question. The same as in the headline, you are providing an answer to questions people perhaps did not even know they had before you introduced this information — so in some aspects the most important thing to consider and address, now through the honest and detailed presentation of information about your product/news/event, is Why people should care. The answer to this question should speak for itself — which is why the ideal press release contains no jargon, excess, or junk and merely reports on itself.
IV. End Notes
As a final point: be direct and objective, and eliminate excess words and information as much as is possible. Present the meat (dates, statistics, names) before the fat, and if possible leave no room for the fat at all. A press release should be short, around one single-spaced page, and should leap straight into the relevant information. All that does not help in relaying the relevant ideas and information should be left out. Include contact information and the company’s information at the end of the document.
We hope we’ll be reading your successful press release soon.