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Actually writing a press release

After my short guide to writing a release several people asked how to actually go about finding the right words.  Making it sound right.  This is what I suggest:

Be warned it includes a great deal of tea!

I am lucky, as are most other people working in communications, we love writing and it comes naturally to us.  For others this can be the hardest part. You know you need to do it but where do you start?  Our best advice here is just to get on with the job. It is far easier to correct something you have already written so just put pen to paper. Don’t worry to begin with about the structure, the do’s and the don’ts. Just get something on paper.

Often it is easiest to start with a quotation – what are your thoughts about the story? Once you have the basics take a break – have a cup of tea!

Come back to the release with a clear head after a good break and start tweaking. Start thinking about the correct format and look closely at what you have already written.

Have a cup of tea!

Find your headline by being aware that amongst the text you will possibly have already written it (along with the opening sentences).  They are just unlikely at this stage to be anywhere near the top of the page.

Have a cup of tea!

Once you are happy with the release make sure it is proof-read either by a team member or someone you trust. Ask them to check not just grammar and spelling but also the story. Check that they understood quickly and easily the story you are trying to tell.

Have a cup of tea whilst they do that for you!

However, above all, don’t spend so long, writing, tweaking, proofing and drinking tea that you miss the press deadlines or your own product launch!

Unlike almost everything else in business 99% correct on time is almost always better than 100% correct after the print deadline.

Now send the release!  And whilst we are on that topic, obey the following rules…

Journalists are people, just like you and I.  I know I get irritated with junk email.  To them irrelevant release are just that.  So:

  1. Specifically target those journalists that will be interested. Your media list may contain 1,000 titles but certain stories will only interest a few at any one time.

  2. Learn their preferred method of receiving releases. For most it will be email, but there are still a few who like fax.

  3. Include the release in the email body – opening attachments adds one more step and they can be stripped off by spam and virus filters.

  4. Keep formatting to a minimum – if you have written the release in Word, copied it to Outlook and sent it to a journalist using a Mac, any number of errors can appear if you start to include too many images, logos and pretty colours.

  5. Different people feel differently about my next suggestion but I would say, if relevant mention that you can provide images – but don’t attach them. They can take ages to down load and the call to action ensures you know which journalists are interested.

Above all – make the release personal, both in its introduction and content.


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