Press releases are a fantastic way to pitch reporters about your business’s announcement – whether an upcoming event, project, award, new employee, leadership change, or transition. This process is easier than most believe. Here are 12 tips to planning and writing an effective press release:
1. Ensure your news is actually “newsworthy.” Will people outside of your immediate circle care? The reporter’s audience is the audience you are writing for.
2. Find your angle…. in other words, take that news and frame it in such a way that makes someone care even more about your news (Hint: Who is the end user or benefactor? How will this news impact them?).
3. Choose a headline that you want to see in the newspaper the next day. The headline should also grab the attention of your audience. Use superlatives like first, newest, largest, slowest, trends, etc.
4. Strategically utilize a subhead in italics to call out the “why” or impressive data of the release.
5. Before the first paragraph, include the city and state where the news happened or where your organization is located.
6. Write your lede. A lede is the opening sentence or paragraph summarizing the most important information. Don’t “bury the lede” as a reporter is likely to only read the first line of your release.
7. Write 3-5 strong paragraphs that include supporting evidence and details – this is the who, what, where, when, why, and how portion.
8. Include quotations from (at least one, but generally no more than three) relevant, preferably high-level folks. No more than three sentences per quote, with the person’s name and title included in the middle. There is an accepted format for this, so research what releases normally look like.
9. Use the symbol ### at the end of the body of the release, centered. This shows the release has come to an end, demonstrates you understand how to construct a release, and shows respect for the news release process.
10. Under ###, include your “boilerplate copy” that explains the organization name, mission, and why you/your organization are important or relevant to the news in the release. Consider including your social media handles, including website, inside the boilerplate copy.
11. List contact information at the top of the release… sometimes reporters just wanted to know who to talk to.
12. Avoid jargon. Ensure there are no typos. Use AP Style (Google it) as much as possible.
You’ve got this!
Heather Davis Epkins, Ph.D. serves Maryland Governor Larry Hogan as the Communications Director for the Governor’s Coordinating Offices. For 20 years, she has taken the strategic communications lead for various entities including local, state, and federal government campaigns, corporations, and nonprofits – winning awards, both local and national for her communications work and television advertising spots. She currently serves as a Board Member for the Public Relations Society of America Chesapeake Chapter.
This article is featured in the 2020 edition of The Daily Record’s Expanding Opportunities Resource Guide for Small, Minority and Women Businesses. Published in conjunction with the Governor’s Office of Small, Minority & Women Business Affairs, Expanding Opportunities explores diversity, entrepreneurship and innovation in Maryland’s small business community. Read more from Expanding Opportunities on this website or read the digital edition.