How to write a press release (This advice document is taken from www.ideastap.com) A press release, sometimes also referred to as a media release, is a written statement used to share information with members of the press. The purpose of a press release is to inform journalists about a new product, business, or event and to convince them that it is newsworthy. Public Relations (PR) companies are often employed to write press releases and sell-in stories to publications on behalf of organisations. Employing such a company can be an effective way to raise your profile, but their services can also be expensive. If you can’t afford to employ a PR, you can write your own press release by following these simple steps: Layout • Format – Keep it simple and stick to a Word document or PDF when creating your document. Use bullet points to highlight key facts and break down lengthy copy. • Length - A press release should be no more than two sides of A4 including pictures. Key information should be on the first page and as high up the release as possible. • Distribution date – Ensure that the date at the top is the day the press release is sent out. It may be kept on file so it’s important for journalists to see whether information is current. • Release date - If your press release is intended for publication on a certain date, ensure that you write ‘Embargoed until’ and insert the date in large writing at the top of the page. • Heading - Think of it as a newspaper headline i.e. attention grabbing but factual. A good heading will encourage people to read on. • Opening paragraph – Summarise your message in the opening paragraph – what, when, who, where, why? What is the product, service or event; when and where is it being launched or happening; who is the person or company behind it and why is it exciting? • Quote – Always try to include a quote as where possible journalists like hearing from people. The quote usually forms the third paragraph of a press release. Ensure that any quote is relevant and you have permission from the person you’re quoting. • Images – Adding images is particularly important if you are promoting a product or visual work. Ensure that any images you are compressed to avoid making your file huge. You can also attach images to your email but keep any unsolicited emails to 2MB - preferably much less. • Notes to Editors – A ‘Notes to Editors’ section at the end of your press release is an opportunity for you to provide more detail or technical information that is too boring for the main release. It’s good to include a brief synopsis on your company in this section too. • Contact details – Make sure that people can get hold of you for information by including your name, contact telephone number and email address. • Language - Be aware of the power of key words (e.g debut, premiere, exclusive) and delete redundant words to make the press release as concise as possible. It’s also important that you write for the market/audience your product/service/event is aimed at. Template: Distribution date EMBARGOED UNTIL DD MM YYYY Snappy heading in large writing Paragraph one: summary - who, what, when, where, why? IMAGE (compressed) Paragraph two: more detailed information. Paragraph three: quote from a relevant person. Paragraph four: more detailed information. Paragraph five: closing paragraph. ENDS Notes to Editors: Insert any technical/detailed information that is too boring for the main release. Provide an overview of your company and any other parties involved in the project. It’s also useful to include a link to company websites where possible. Further information: Please contact INSERT NAME, JOB TITLE, COMPANY NAME Telephone: INSERT TELEPHONE NUMBER Email: INSERT EMAIL ADDRESS Five common press release mistakes Whether you’re pimping out your new show, talking up an exhibition, having a sale or just want to tell the world that someone off TOWIE wore one of your dresses to an Esso garage, then you’re going to have to press the button and release the beast. Here are five common press release mistakes to avoid… 1. Using the wrong name. Or no name. Let’s start from the beginning shall we? Of course, you can’t always address every single press release individually (although if you did, it would be much more successful). But be warned, a “Hey guys!” blanket greeting will make lots of your recipients immediately switch off, ignore and delete. Secondly, make some attempt to check that you’ve got the journalist’s name right. If you’re not sure, here’s a clue – it’s probably the same as the name in the email address. And, while we’re on the address subject, please don’t just CC everyone in the world with an email address – not only is it massively unprofessional to share someone’s email address with a load of strangers, it will also make your email very likely to end up in a junk folder. 2. Shoehorning in a desperately tenuous topical reference “Forget the Mexican Gulf, will you spill the beans about our oilsome new sketch show?” I am only partially joking. You’d be amazed how many people think that in order to send something out to the press, you have to dress it up as news-related. You don’t. Doing so will often annoy or even offend as many people as it grabs. 3. Waffling You should be able to describe what you’re promoting in just a couple of snappy sentences. Think of your unique selling point, how you’d describe it to a granny and bring that together into a short, sharp, and concise elevator pitch. This is how to open your press release. If you do want to include a longer description, maybe add it as an attachment or link. Talking of brevity, make sure all the really useful information – dates, prices, venues, contact details, opening times etc – are up at the top of the press release. Without these, you might as well not send a release at all. 4. A metric tonne of hyperbole “This painstakingly well acted production, fabulously directed, stunningly lit and unbelievably well-designed is set to change the face of British theatre forever with its hilariously insightful and groundbreaking script…” Shut. Up. Of course you want to big up your project but please, try to keep some sort of grip on reality. A few well-placed superlatives will do a much better job than a muck-spreader of hyperventilating praise. That goes for exclamation marks too – less is more. 5. Sending irrelevant press releases This is not cool, dudes. As one disgruntled marketing person put it, “If someone repeatedly sends me irrelevant content, I just mark all emails from them as going straight to trash.” Pick to whom you’re sending what. Read the publication they write for, check if it’s relevant and tailor what you’re saying to their audience and style. Here are a few more for free… Don’t send press releases at 5pm on a Friday. Absolutely no one is going to read them at that time of the week. If you’re offering interviews with someone, please check that they’re available. Being told someone is in meetings or away is very frustrating. Don’t attach huge files. If you want to attach images (which is very useful) create a gallery and send out the link to that.
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