1. The first paragraph of the press release must, if it is printed on its own, tell enough of the story to be useful and answer the following questions for the reader: who, what, where, why and when.
2. Always remember that the first paragraph is by far the most important part of any press release. When selecting releases for publication, most editors don’t read any further! Try to write the release in such a way that it will still make good sense if one or more of the later paragraphs is deleted.
3. The first sentence should indicate why the item is newsworthy. For example, make it clear if you’re launching a new product, hosting an event, have won an award or you’re having an open day on your premises.
4. If it’s a release promoting the launch of product or service, the first paragraph should include a benefit. Why would the customer want to buy it? What makes it different from the ones already available on the market?
5. Always use the singular when referring to companies. For example, “Coca Cola is the leading manufacturer of soft drinks” and never “Coca Cola are the leading manufacturer of soft drinks”.
6. In product releases, the first paragraph must make it clear what the product is.
7. In product releases, the first paragraph should always include one or more customer benefits of the new product, rather than simply concentrating on features.
8. Be wary of making vague claims like “[the product] has a lot of benefits” or “[the product] has been used with great success”. Always say what the benefits are, or what type of success has been achieved. Percentages that show improvement or a high uptake of the product always help.
9. If the press release announces a specific piece of news about the business, such as the opening of new premises, provide a quote from a key individual – usually the business owner or director.
10. The second paragraph will usually define the target audience. If you are hosting an event make sure to add the details about location, timings and what can the visitors expect from it. Include a call to action, by sending readers to a website for further information or to register for a place at the event, for example.
11. For product launches, the third and subsequent paragraphs will typically give general details of the product, starting with the most important features.
12. The average length of a press release should be between 250 words and a maximum of 400. Don’t be tempted to add too much information and make it too long because journalists won’t have the patience to read the whole thing. Keep it simple, factual, and to the point.
13. When the press release has been written, the writer must proof read it carefully and spell and grammar check it before passing it on for further checking. Care must be taken to ensure that the spell/check grammar checking is set for the correct language.
B. Distributing your press release
Writing an interesting press release to support your event is all well and good, but its success can only be judged after the response it gets. So here are a few tips to help you get it right:
Timing: if your press release is announcing an event and your goal is to invite journalists to it, then this release needs to be sent to them well in advance – at least a month, if possible.