Writing Press Releases
While it is true that preparing a news release is rather formulaic, in today’s sound-byte society grabbing attention with a paper announcement is not as easy as it used to be. Some simple steps help keep it in perspective: be concise, be direct, and follow up.
Being concise is the name of the game. Give enough information to interest, but do not over explain. Use key messaging. Stick to the basics: who, what, when and where. Employ letterhead to announce “who” (make sure electronic letterhead matches paper letterhead)! A short (2-3 sentences), grabbing lead paragraph announces “what.” The second paragraph provides essentials: when and where. A third paragraph can summarize why or how (if either is applicable). And, to really sell it in an ideal world, the fourth paragraph should be a supportive quote from a peer—not from someone directly related to the entity or product. The concluding paragraph, a final sentence, is contact information, including hyperlinks (these should be short and easy, too).
The next step is crucial: dissemination. Today’s news cycle is 24-7. One simply cannot afford a distribution method that eats time. As a result, regular mail and fax are out. They also cost more money. Go online for the most reliable, real-time, notification–and don’t be shy. Blast e-mail, blog, Facebook, Tweet and post the announcement to the online newsroom. E-mail the customer base and media directly. Back up the e-distribution with additional resources on-line. Be sure your online resources are already live at the time of distribution. Have a webpage effectively linked to all related e-comms, providing further detail, visuals, and contact information to a real person.
Make sure the release has a clear audience. Each announcement should be geared toward a particular reporter, web-zine, and/or set of customers whose interest or support is targeted. After directly contacting these people with the release, follow-up with a phone call: did he or she receive the news release? What does he think? Would she like any additional information or an interview with a specialist related to the product? Then provide what was promised that same day.
And that should do it: be concise, be direct and follow-up–and the news will follow.
–K. Lee Patten
Here are some other resources:
LinkedIn Forum, with 18 comments from industry leaders, is informal yet informative.
This WikiHow article, gives 7 helpful steps.
Both the LinkedIn forum and WikiHow article provide further links to excellent web resources.