Top tips for writing press releases

I recently volunteered to draft a press release to promote an e-petition on behalf of micro-enterprises in the UK. I’m not a Marketing/PR expert though I have written a fair few press releases in my time, but faced with a blank screen I had a minor panic about whether I could do the initiative justice and get the attention of journalists first time.

A few deep breaths later I remembered the basic rules of writing a press release and got to work. The leader of the initiative was delighted with the result and with a bit of tweaking here and there it was ready to go.  Two weeks later with the main contents of the release included in a high profile blog it has been read in excess of 3000 times with over150 shares on Linked In and hundreds of Twitter tweets.

If you’re thinking of writing a press release for your business and wondering where to start, here are some of my top tips. Concentrate on getting the main body of the release written before worrying about a catchy headline:

  • Do your research and gather relevant, factual information to include either in the main body of the press release or at the end
  • Indicate whether it’s for immediate release or embargoed until [date]
  • Follow the who, what, where, when, and why structure for the story
  • Include quotes from yourself and/or relevant others
  • Include contact details at the end
  • Include links to relevant information for journalists to verify
  • Add in a photograph (of you or whatever you’re promoting if relevant)

Make it Newsworthy – read the release back again and ask yourself (better still ask someone-else) whether it’s a newsworthy story. Remember you are competing against hundreds and thousands of other businesses to get your release in that media so it has to be something that’s of interest to the majority of readers, relevant, and a maybe a little different.

Now you’ve written the release it’s time to think about a Headline. It does help if you can create an attention grabbing headline but be careful to keep it relevant to the content. Journalists will often tweak it anyway and devise their own headline if they like the story enough.

Take a mixed media approach to your press releases. There are plenty of web sites where your release can be submitted (mine was sent to but don’t rely on this exclusively for your story to be picked up. Look at other offline options such as local newspapers, and magazines but make sure if you’re going local that there is a clear local angle in your message. Don’t forget to use social media e.g. Twitter, Linked In to promote it and ask followers/networks to send it to their journalist contacts. You could also try to get it included in a high-profile blog like we did.

Think carefully about the timing when you send a press release – if it lands on desks the busiest day of the week it’s unlikely to get noticed, so try to find out when deadline day is (especially for local media) and avoid it!

The more you practice writing press releases the better you’ll become. Don’t be afraid to keep sending them in, there’s no guarantee the first, second, or even third one will be published but if it’s a quiet news day you could be lucky and the fact you’ve persistently tried to get their attention means they are more likely to remember it. Good luck!

If you’re interested in the press release I wrote, you can view it here. If you believe #microbizmatters do feel free to sign the e-petition too!

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