A How-To Press Release Review
August 20, 2012 1 Comment
When launching a PR or media relations campaign, your press release is your calling card. If it’s well done it will tell a compelling story, interest the media and make the reader want to know more. It will be more about the story than it will be a biography of you or your company. Remember the old adage facts tell, stories sell. Make sure you have a strong hook or story before you write a release. Simply writing a release about the launch of a new product or business isn’t enough. Unless you’re writing releases strictly for SEO value, or to place in a very specific trade publication, press releases about promotions and the like can help generate good will within the company, but from a media relations perspective, they’re a complete waste of time.
I have a hard-and-fast rule at my company that press releases cannot exceed one-page, and I will sacrifice double-spacing in order to come up with a one-page release. Trouble is most clients feel that they have so much interesting and important information to impart, that we couldn’t possibly say all we wanted in a one page press release. They’re right. And the purpose of a press release is not to tell everything, but to offer a very specific compelling story.
You’re not going to tell them your life story in one release. At least I hope you’re not going to. Effective public relations is not about listing facts, but about creating interesting stories that educate, inform and/or entertain. You first want to come up with the strongest angle and story that you can and then give the media that pitch in headlines, and teasers. Imagine that you’re cutting a trailer for an upcoming movie. You’re not concerned with trying to let the audience see the entire film. Your job is to interest the public enough to plunk down their money to see the movie. It’s the same with your press release. You want your release to act as a teaser; you want to interest the media, grab their attention.
There are some set-in-stone, very specific guidelines to press releases, such as covering the who, what, where, and when information, adhering to the AP press release format, and keeping it double-spaced. Personally, I’d say focus more on telling a compelling story than with following the rulebook. Most press releases are horribly, terrifically boring. They are either dry, and chock-full of dull, tedious facts, or they are overly cute.
Before you decide to write and send out a press release, consider the following:
- Write in clear, plain language that people who are unfamiliar with service-learning can understand.
- The first paragraph of the release should convey in a clear and succinct way what the news release is about. Do not put any excess information in this paragraph
- The last paragraph should include information on your organization (“boilerplate”), along with a website address, if available, and phone number.
- Write with action verbs, and an active voice.
- Keep sentences and paragraphs short and concise.
And always keep in mind that your main objective is to tell a story that the media and their listeners, viewers or readers will want to know about. Remember a press release is not a one size fits all document. Change and modify it to fit the needs of the different media outlets.
Copyright © Anthony Mora 2012
Rick, Jonathan. “4 Ways to Rethink the Press Release.” Photo. Mashable. 20 Aug 2012. 06 Apr 2012. <http://mashable.com/2012/04/06/press-release-blog-lessons-alternative/>