A few years ago in 2006, the 100th birthday of the Press Release came and went without so much as a whimper. It’s a shame to have missed the Centenarian mark of one of the quintessential PR devices that so many businesses have benefitted from over the nearly eleven decades since an unfortunate train disaster in Atlantic City prompted Ivy Lee to create them in the first place.
Also known as a News Release, a Press Release is simply a statement given to the media, intended to announce your choice of a whole slew of possible news-worthy items: important scheduled events, new inventions, promotions, noteworthy awards, services, and any other well- deserving accomplishment that you believe warrants some kind of ‘attention.’
But if you want to give yourself the best odds of actually getting noticed by the overwrought members of the forever-churning Media Machine, you’d be doing yourself a huge favor by following the specific, and expected, format.
–Headline: Typically written in bold, it’s here where you set out to grab the readers attention, extracting only the most crucial keywords related specifically to your story. So if you’re writing about a train wreck in Atlantic City like Mr. Lee did back in 1906, then a good title, albeit tragic but nonetheless eye-catching and concise, would be: Train disaster kills 53. Pretty straightforward, right?
–Body Copy: Beginning with the date and place, the first sentence should communicate exactly what took place that you’re writing about. Keep in compactly written without getting caught up in fancy language. This is a press release meant to communicate information. It’s not The Grapes of Wrath. Stick with the facts, in the infamous 5 W’s and the H (Who, What, Where, When, Why, and How).
–Company/Contact Information: Whoever the journalist is who picks up your release is going to want to know something about your company so he/she can mention you in their piece. So be sure and include the basics of your businesses core policies. Again, keep it short (5 or 6 lines tops), put it after the body copy, and don’t forget to include some kind of contact info as well, preferably a website, email address, and phone number. Who knows they may call you for a quote.
Press Releases are also always written in the third-person, so forget anything relating to ‘I, we, us, and ours.’ Instead, lean on the ‘they, them, and theirs’ approach. Remember, it’s just like a news story, not an editorial. Check out any of the numerous press releases that come out daily to get a better idea of how exactly to craft one the right way. Major corporations and Governments (the White House in particular) are excellent sources since they’ve got these babies down pat. And please don’t go over one page. The shorter you can make it the more likely someone might actually take the time to read it, and after all, that’s what it’s all about anyway right? Press on! See our latest press release