Once you know the basics involved in writing a Press Release, you’ll find it’s a pretty simple process to put one together. In fact, if you conform to “industry standards” and include the information that reporters and editors are expecting to find, your press release stands a very good chance of actually being used.
Here are the formatting rules you need to follow:
Use mixed case. NEVER SUBMIT A PRESS RELEASE IN ALL UPPER CASE LETTERS. As you can see, it’s much more difficult to read that way.
Always follow the rules of grammar and style. Errors in grammar and style affect your credibility. Excessive errors will cause your press release to be rejected.
Don’t use HTML. When sending your press release to online Media, do not embed HTML or other markup languages in it. Including such formatting will negatively impact the readability of your press release.
Use more than one paragraph. If you can say everything in only a few sentences, then chances are you do not have a newsworthy story. (*Note: You may hear that your press release should “never” be more than one page long. I have found that a press release should be as long as it takes to tell your story. If that means one and a-half or two pages, then that’s how long it should be. Do your best to keep it short and sweet, but don’t take out important information just to make it fit on one page.)
Include a summary paragraph for online submissions. Some online news services request that you include a one-page summary of your press release. This is because some distribution points only receive your headline, summary and a link to your press release. If you are submitting to online services, not including the summary paragraph may reduce the effectiveness of your press release. This is not usually necessary with print, television or radio media.
Write your press release on a word processor instead of composing it online. When you’ve finished writing it, print it out, and proofread it. Rewrite, edit, and proofread again, until you’ve got it exactly how you want it, and there are no mistakes. Because most people have a harder time proofreading their own writing, ask someone you trust to proofread it for you.
Do not include your e-mail address in the body of your release — especially when submitting your press release online, or publishing your press release on your Website or in your blog. You can include your email address in the contact information if you wish, but if it goes online, be prepared to be spammed, since it’s going into public domain. Most online media services will have a place for your email address in the submission process, for your protection, and most of your local media will prefer a telephone number to contact you with.
Here is a basic template you can use when writing your Press Release:
Starting at the top of the page, on your company letterhead, write the words “PRESS RELEASE” in all capital letters, centered and bolded.
Hit the enter-bar twice, so you go down two lines. On the left hand side of the page, write the date you want the information to be released, or if it’s “FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE” write that, again in all CAPS and bolded. On the same line, but to the far right, write the words “CONTACT INFORMATION” again, bolded and in capital letters. Go down to the next line, and list the contact person and their phone number.
It’s always a good idea to have two contact people whenever possible and two phone numbers for each of them — for example, the office number and cell phone numbers. You can also put your email address here.
Hit the enter-bar twice again, and type in your headline next. (It needs to be centered and bolded, but not necessarily in all CAPS). Your headline needs to be short, snappy and relevant. You want it to grab the reader’s attention.
Go down two spaces again. The body of your press release should be double spaced, and typed in an easy to read 12 in font, such as Times New Roman or Arial. Leave lots of white space in your press release — use at least one to two inch margins around your page.
The first paragraph of your press release needs to provide the reader with enough basic information to make them keep reading. It should answer the “W” questions — who, what, when, and where and why. Because you’ve only got a few sentences, make every word count.
The second paragraph of your press release will answer the “so what” question. It needs to explain who is going to be interested in this information, and why they should care about it. The second paragraph is an ideal place to include a quote, or a touchie-feely “Kodak” moment, to add human interest to your story.
The third (and often final) paragraph of your press release should answer any other questions the reporter or journalist might still have about your story. Here is where you can include information about your company, or any technical stuff.
Make your press release long enough to say what you need to say. If it goes beyond one page, then centered under the last line on the first page, write the word “MORE” in all caps and bold it.
Then on the second page, on the top right hand side of the page, write “Page 2” and on the line under that, write the title of your press release again.
Continue where you left off. When your press release is finished, put these symbols centered under the last line “###” (without the quotation marks.) This lets the reader know that you’re done.
That’s all there is to it. Although the information you provide will be different each time you write a press release, the basic format will always stay the same. Now you’ve got enough information to be able to write your first press release.