Press releases should announce something new or exciting that is going on at your company that you would like to tell the world about. Here are some best practices of writing a press release for your company to keep in mind next time you set out to write.
Headline Should Always Be In Active Tense
Example: New Restaurant Opens In Saratoga
Notice how how the verb “opens” is in active tense – NOT “opening” – NOT “opened” … It doesn’t matter if it happened 3 weeks ago, your headline should make it sound like it is happening NOW. This is the standard format for press release headlines. Some professionals will tell you to put your headline in ALL CAPS to draw attention, but in my opinion, it’s better to use Title Case to avoid being an annoyance to journalists. Think about it… do you see newspaper headlines using all caps? Follow the format they use to make it as easy as possible.
Body Of Press Release Should Be In Appropriate Tense
Okay, so the headline is allowed to lie a little, but the rest of your press release will tell the truth. Did it happen 3 weeks ago? Your press release body will talk about it as it happened 3 weeks ago with past-tense verbs, like opened, revealed, designed, said, etc. Is it happening 3 weeks from now? Your press release body should use future-tense verbs/phrases, like will provide, will feature, is expected to draw a crowd, etc. Only the title should be in present tense.
First Paragraph Holds The Meat
Example: SARATOGA SPRINGS NY (July 11, 2009) — Dry Bones, a new American style restaurant in Saratoga Springs, opened on Broadway this week, just in time for the summer racing season.
Your first paragraph should tell who, what, where, when and why. And it should be brief, only about 1-2 sentences long. Remember you don’t have to give all the specific details here; you will have the rest of the press release to elaborate. Many media professionals will not read past the first paragraph, so it’s important to make a good impression and include all of those important elements. Always begin your press release with the dateline (bolded in example above) where you list city and state along with date of release – generally all in CAPS.
The Press Release Should Read Like A News Article
Write your press release as if you were a journalist who has no vested interest in promoting your company. You are simply announcing the news and explaining why it’s newsworthy. Try to avoid phrases like “is pleased to announce” or “come join the fun” or “you don’t want to miss” or other similar red-flag-this-is-promotion phrases. As a general rule of thumb, if you wouldn’t see it printed on a news site, don’t include it in your news release. Instead, write your press release so that the media could theoretically just copy/paste what you have written into their publication.
Use Inverted Pyramid Style
Think of an inverted pyramid – or a clearer image might be an upside-down triangle. It is widest at the top and comes to a point at the bottom. That is the structure of a good press release. You want to write your story so that the most important information is first, then the next important information, then the semi-important information… right down to the information that the story could really do without. This way, if an editor did want to take and run your story but had limited space, they could chop off the last 2 paragraphs and still have a complete story.
Example: “Saratoga Springs now has a family restaurant that not only offers great food, but is incredibly affordable too,” said Chef Owner Pamela Richter. “Not to mention, children really love how fun this place is!”
This is the appropriate way to sneak in those bragging or promotional phrases – not in the actual body of the press release. You can certainly be creative with your quotes! The first quote should be from the highest-ranking member of your company or organization and usually follows the first paragraph. Quotes can be alternated between each paragraph of text or congregated at the bottom of the press release for journalists to pull from. My personal preference is to have them right in the body of the release between paragraphs so that it reads like a true news article.
When quoting someone for the first time, you should refer to them with their full name along with their title at the company. Every time after that, simply refer to them by their last name.
Provide Contact Information
At the top of your press release, you should provide a “quick guide” of who to contact for more information. You should provide at least a name, phone number and email address. You may also want to add a sentence or two detailing contact information and/or a way to get more information (ie. website link) as the last paragraph of your press release.
About Dry Bones
Owned by Saratoga Springs native and chef Pamela Richter, Dry Bones is an American-style restaurant, located on Broadway in Saratoga Springs NY. Menu options range from casual American classics, such as burgers and hot dogs, to more indulgent offerings, including steak and barbecue ribs. Dry Bones opened to the public in early July 2009 and serves lunch and dinner daily from 11am to 9pm.
At the very bottom of your press release, you should have a standard “boilerplate” – a short paragraph that tells about your company. Just a few descriptive sentences will do the trick. This remains the same for every press release you send out, but it can be tweaked and updated from time to time as needed.
Browse Samples Before Setting Out To Write
It may help to see a few good examples of press releases that are written the right way. You can browse samples of press releases that Mannix Marketing has sent to local media here.
Not ready for the challenge of writing your own press release? Mannix Marketing can help! We offer press release writing services as well as distribution to local media and online. Contact us to learn more or inquire about pricing for our press release services: 1- 800-928-9154.