What is a Press Release?
A press release is a newsworthy story about your business that you submit to various media outlets ~ newspapers, magazines, website, radio, television.
This is a wonderful way to get free promotion for your website. Any story that the media picks up will be far more valuable than a paid advertising spot.
Having the media do a story about you is like a personal endorsement of your website and business.
What is the Appropriate Format for Your Press Release?
Your press release should have six basic components and they are:
1. Release Instructions
“For Immediate Release”;
“For Release Before [date]” or
“For Release After [date]”
Use one of the latter two if your press release is of a time sensitive nature. For example, if you are holding a public speaking event, you will want to use the “For Release Before [date]” and make sure you input the final date for registrations. If you are using the “For Release Before [date]” ensure you are sensitive to media deadlines. Send your release out well in advance.
Write an attention-grabbing headline. Make it benefits-oriented (why would it be of interest to people?) and descriptive. Avoid hype and promotional language ~ remember, this is a news story.
3. Contact Information
Include as much information as possible here. Make it easy for the media to contact you. Include your phone number, address, company name, fax number, email and URL. Include the hours you are available at the listed phone number and add an after hours phone number, if applicable.
Before you get into the body of the release, write a sentence or two to summarize your press release. Make it interesting, you want the recipient to keep reading.
This is the meat of your press release. Again, write a benefits-oriented story. Think of the target audience as you are writing. Your target audience is partly the editor or reporter who will be reading the release. Ultimately, however, your target audience is that editor or reporter’s readers or audience. You need to write a story that will be of interest to them.
The first paragraph should answer all the important questions – Who, What, Where, When, Why & How?
Add some quotations to add credibility and to break up the story. Quotations can be from you about the topic. Testimonials or commentary from your customers are very effective as well.
6. Signify the End of Your Release
The end of your press release is shown by a few simple characters. Place ### at the end of your release.
Other General Formatting Tips
- Always remember that your press release is not an ad. It is a newsworthy story.
- Address your release directly to the appropriate reporter or editor. The media receives many press releases each day. A release addressed to a specific person is more likely to get attention than a general submission.
- Keep your release to about 1 page (or 2 pages maximum).
- Number your pages 1 of 2, 2 of 2, etc.
- Use active verbs.
- Do not use excessive adjectives ~ they sound like hype.
- Tweak your release when sending to different media outlets. If you are sending to the local paper your content may be slightly different than if you are sending it to a trade magazine.
- If you are sending your release by mail, use 8 1/2″ x 11″ paper.
- If you are sending your release by email, never send an attachment. Copy and paste your release into the body of the email.
Where to Send your Press Release
You need to build a media list and this will likely take some time. Start local and small. Local and/or small media are most likely to be interested in your story and it’s the perfect way to hone your release writing skills. Besides, a lot of the larger media outlets scan the little guys to find stories to pick up.
Try newspapers, trade journals, topic specific magazines, websites, radio shows, television show ~ whomever would be interested in your topic.
Again, always remember to get specific contact information for your press release. A release address to a particular person will get a lot more attention than a general release sent to the media outlet.
Alice Seba is a “Retired” Press Release Writer that now teaches other website owners to increase their media exposure. Find out how you can get the media to sing your praises at Press Release Profits