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10 tips on writing your own press release

So, you’re looking to write a press release about your own company? Perhaps you want to raise your target audience’s awareness of your business and the products and services it provides? Or maybe you want to shout about an exciting event that your company is, or has recently been involved in?

Regardless of the angle, the goal with a press release is always the same: to ensure that it’s used within your target publications and therefore noticed by your target audience. Simply following our 10 tips below will increase your chances of achieving this.

1.     Ask yourself honestly whether your story is really newsworthy to your target publications

This could save you a lot of time and effort in the long run. Do you think that anyone outside your organisation would be interested in your story? Is it more than just a plug for a new product? If your answer is “yes” to both of these, then read on.

 2.     Do your homework on your target publications

Read the news pages of the titles you plan to send your press release to and check whether your story is the type of subject they have reported on in the past. Also make a note of the style of writing used within these publications. For instance, if you plan to send your release to a trade magazine, you can probably get away with using more industry jargon. If, however, you are sending the release to a local or regional newspaper – even if it is going directly to the specialist business writers directly – don’t assume that they’ll understand your industry’s terms. Simplify your language, and then simplify it again.

3.     Remember – the most important part of the press release is the first sentence

You have only a matter of seconds to grab the editor’s attention. Include the five “Ws” – who, what, where, why and when – in the first sentence to explain your story in 25 words or less if possible.

4.     Where appropriate, include relevant figures

If you are targeting the business press in particular, be sure to include any headline figures, such as deal values, investments or profits within the first three sentences.

5.     Limit quotations to two or three sentences in total

If the journalist is interested in your story, then they will want to speak to the spokespeople further themselves.

6.     Are you sending your release to several varied titles?

If so, then take the time to tweak the release to meet their needs. For example, if it’s a local newspaper, be sure to mention at the top that you are based in that local area. If it is a national trade magazine, then mention your specific position and / or focus within that particular industry.

7.     Avoid writing phrases that sound overly promotional or sales-driven

A press release that reads too much like an advertisement will be dismissed immediately as spam. Phrases such as “a world leading business” (says who?) and “innovative and pro-active solutions” (a meaningless statement) tend to grate on most journalists. Stick to the facts and the story should sell itself.

8.     Keep the story short – certainly no longer than two sides of A4

As a guide, you should aim for between 300 to 500 words. If you have much more to add, then either insert a web link for more information, or add a section after the story entitled “FOR EDITORS” and insert your extra text in a smaller font than the rest of the release.

9.     Always include the appropriate contact details

Contact details regarding photograph and /or interview opportunities should always be included at the bottom of the release, in case journalists want to gather any extra information regarding your story or arrange to take their own press shots.

10.  The way  in which you present the story to journalists is also important

As well as attaching your story to the email you send out – making it easier for reporters to print out a copy – you should also paste the text into the body of the e-mail and add a short introductory sentence above it.

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