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Tutorial: How to Write a Press Release - Part 1

Have you ever written a press release before? If not, don’t worry. We’re going to give you a few guidelines that make the process very simple. Let’s start with some guidelines.

Public Relations Templates

Press Release Tools and Templates

1 Public Relations Templates

Why write a Press Release?

Webwire describe why you should write a press release and its role in media publications.

“A press release is designed to be sent to journalists and or media outlets (newspapers, magazines, broadcasters, etc.) to encourage them (the reporter) to develop news articles on the subject.”

It adds that a press release tends to be biased toward the objectives of the press release’s author and is most often viewed as raw materials by the media when creating news content.

Tip: Start with a description of the news, then state who announced it; not the other way around.

Press Release Guidelines, How to Write a Press Release

Here are the guidelines for a sample press release.

1. Headline

THE HEADLINE ANNOUNCES THE NEWS IN TITLE CASE. 80 CHARACTERS MAX.

Write one sentence in CAPITAL LETTERS to describe the news item.

2. Release Date

Give the Press Release the following heading.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

This means journalists can publish it immediately.

NOTE: If you want them hold back on publishing the press release, for example, until a specific date, then put EMBARGO on the press release.

Highlight when they can go ahead and publish.

3. Summary Paragraph

This is slightly little longer than the heading as it expands on the news in the headline. 1-4 sentences.

For example:

Adobe Flash Technology Enhances Search Results for Dynamic Content and Rich Internet Applications

Use sentence case, standard capitalization and punctuation.

Keep this as concise as possible.

Do not use verbal puns or wordplay.
 

4 – Identify the location and date

Next, in one sentence, describe the reason for the press release. Make this as compelling as possible.

This has to be very clear and avoid any possible ambiguity. Most journalists will read this one line. If they are not interested, they’ll press delete and move on.

Short, quick and to the point.

For example, an IBM press release:

ARMONK, N.Y. - 29 Sep 2009: IBM (NYSE: IBM) today announced a three-year IT services agreement with Cinepolis, one of the world's largest multiplex operators, commencing operations in India. The deal, inked in August 2009, will involve IBM deploying, managing and supporting a scalable IT infrastructure essential for Cinepolis' roll-out plans in the country.

Again, the lead sentence contains the most important information in 25 words or less. State the news you have to announce.

Do NOT assume that your reader has read your headline or summary paragraph; the lead sentence should stand on its own.

5. Expand on the key points

Three paragraphs maximum.

For example:

The initial key projects and initiatives of the Center include:

  • Providing support to regional ISVs and IBM business partners to localize major worldwide applications and ensure availability of key local applications on Linux;
  • Developing prototypes of e-government services and other government projects based on Linux and open source;
  • Developing e-learning solutions for the Kazakh system of professional training; and

IMPORTANT - Write in such a way that your text can be cut and pasted into their news item, blog, newsletter, article, etc as easily as possibly.

I really want to emphasize this: write your press releases so that others can take what you’ve written and with almost no effort—insert it into their own articles.

Include a quote from senior management:

With more than 34 million registered users, eBay is a strong branding platform for almost any company. By increasing our presence on the site, we'll increase traffic to IBM's eBay store as well as to IBM.com," said Lou D'Ambrosio, vice president, marketing and sales, IBM Software Group.

"We are excited about the marketing synergy between eBay and IBM, and believe our partnership will provide exciting opportunities for our customers, channels and our brands."

6. Add Quotes

Insert a quote from a company representative. Include their full name and job title.

For example:

"As premier e-businesses such as eBay increase transactions and link operations with other enterprises, integrating disparate computing systems and business applications becomes critical," said Samuel J. Palmisano, president and chief operating officer of IBM.

7. Background information

Describe what the company does, where it is located, key clients and its website address.

For example:

O'Reilly Media spreads the knowledge of innovators through its books, online services, magazines, and conferences. Since 1978, O'Reilly Media has been a chronicler and catalyst of cutting-edge development, homing in on the technology trends that really matter and spurring their adoption by amplifying "faint signals" from the alpha geeks who are creating the future. An active participant in the technology community, the company has a long history of advocacy, meme-making, and evangelism.

8. Include Contact Details

Make sure that the journalists, bloggers, and others can contact you.

Include the name of the PR person at your company that they can contact for more information.

Include address and phone number.

Contact Name:

Company:

Tel:

Email:

9. Reference Sites

Provide ways for the reader to get additional information, such as demos, samples, etc.

10. Trademark Acknowledgments

Include trademark acknowledgments, product or event timelines, availability etc.

11. Background information on other companies

Include background information about all companies featured in the release, if appropriate.

 

12. Safe Harbor Statement or Disclaimers

Include any applicable safe harbor statement or disclaimers.

13. End the press release with the following characters.

###

Additional Points to consider

Some of these are common sense but worth mentioning.

13. Font

Use a standard font such as Times New Roman, Font size 11. Do not use bold, italics or underline.

14. Language

Ensure that your press release in written in the correct language, eg UK English if for a British audience or US English for an America audience.

For international audiences, use US English.

 

15. Spelling

Spell-check after finishing. Print out and check for grammar and syntax errors i.e. form instead of from, it’s instead of its.

Pay attention to unusual typography or branding guidelines, such as Yahoo! (note the !) and eBay. It’s lowercase e and uppercase B.

16. Email

When you send out a mass email, use BCC not CC.

BCC will show the readers everyone else’s email address. AND let them save, re-use this address list.

17. Attachments

Do NOT send attachments. These will be flagged in the company spam filters. Your email will never get through.

18. Filing — File a copy of the press release for future reference. Send the release to the appropriate line managers and business partners.

Recommendations

Press Release Templates

Built in MS Word for easy editing and customization, this template helps you design a press relations program to create company awareness in the media, the general populace, and business communities. A well-designed Public Relations Strategy targets the right publications, delivers the right message, and schedules releases that reinforce other elements in your marketing mix. http://www.klariti.com/shop/

Press Release Email Distribution

We use AWeber to send out press releases.

What’s impressive about it is that, even when we send our emails that go to over 1000 (opt-in) customers, it doesn’t get caught in their company’s spam filters. http://www.aweber.com/?211758

Press Release Analytics

Get Response are excellent, Its tools give you a complete "web-wide" picture of subscribers’ actions within the context of your email communications. In other words, it tracks and reports on each visitor’s activity relative to specific campaigns, as opposed to your web traffic in general.



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