Press Releases

The skeleton of a great media release is composed of five elements: a captivating headline, a brief synopsis with a newsworthy “hook”, active, compelling words, a memorable quote and crucial contact information, including (usually) a website URL. Optional elements, depending on the style of the press release, may include “How to­____” or “# Easy Steps to_____”.
Press releases are designed to target mass media outlets whenever feasible with the intent to get them to agree to their newsworthiness so they agree to disseminate them more broadly or reach out to the contact person to interview them for more information. For this reason, a press release can’t be interpreted by the media as a bald-faced free (or paid) publicity grab or sales pitch. It must contain sufficient newsworthiness to be tagged for follow-up or further distribution.
A great headline will target the specific audience that it wants to capture, be utterly compelling to that audience, lead them to decide to read at least the synopsis before deciding whether to read on, and be as short as possible while still “hooking” the reader.
The synopsis section, ideally, is just a sentence long and must shine more light on the headline, and include an implied promise that the following information will be worth the reader’s time and keep him or her inside a vital information loop.
The hook is the part that makes a new media outlet and all subsequent readers buy into reading it from start to finish and then act on it. A hook is a compelling slant or statement that requires a resolution in the reader’s mind. Set it as soon as possible, in the headline if possible but certainly no later than the synopsis.
The body of a press release always begins with a city and state designation showing where the piece originated, the date of release (or FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE if you want it to go out a.s.a.p.)
Following the city, state, media outlet designation and date, tab over one or two places and begin the body of the PR.
Note: the headline, synopsis and first paragraph of a PR may be the only parts that survive the editing/truncation process, so be sure all of your vital information is contained there (including a website URL where readers can get the additional information), except for your contact information; contact info gets placed into another area of the PR.
Most press releases clock in at between 300 and 500 words but they can be longer. Rule of thumb: Don’t make yours a single word longer than it has to be to fulfill its mission. Take out every extra word that doesn’t have to be there to provide explanation or produce a powerful effect on the reader.
You won’t reach “everybody” with your PR. Your sole goal is to get the undivided attention of the people who already want to know more about, and benefit from, what you do or what you know.
Use compelling, active words, keep sentences short, and pack as much punch into each one by using energetic words. Write to express, not to impress. Remember, a lot of people in your target audience may be immigrants or reading at the fourth or fifth grade level, so never use words that only a wordsmith or professor would understand.
Find a newsworthy angle. Do you have a new website? Have you received an award, certification or some other newsworthy accolade? Are you partnering with a new company? Do you have a new service offering? Has a milestone number of years in business occurred (one year, 5 years, 10, 15, 20, 25, 30, silver, etc). Can you link one of your products or services to a current or holiday event? Is a new high-profile celebrity endorsing you? Are you doing charitable work on the side? Have you donated goods or services to a deserving organization, group or family?
Any angle that will generate the interest and activity of media outlets is a newsworthy angle for a compelling press release.
If you feel stuck for ideas, enlist a professional copywriter for a brainstorming session. We know how to plumb the depths for newsworthy topics and helpful informational hints that are press release-worthy. Let’s talk!