In public relations, there is no tool that is used as often as the press release. When it is mastered, it can become a very powerful tool for your PR strategy.
To help you connect with the audiences who you care about, the press release has to “hook” the attention of the editor or reporter by appealing to their interest. The first step is to write in a format that is both effective and familiar to the reporter, editor, or journalist. Some may say, it is formatted like a pseudo newspaper article.
Now, let’s get into the essential components of how a press release is formatted.
Logo or Letterhead
Insert the logo or letterhead from the company or organization you represent. In some instances like a collaborative announcement, you may want to insert multiple logos.
The headline is an important one-liner that can make or break your release. At one glance, the reporter or journalist can decide if they want to pursue your story. To write a kickass headline, you should include action verbs and make it clear, understandable, and short while keeping it relevant to your announcement.
This section is optional. This section will help you elaborate more on your headline and should contain crucial parts of the who, what, when, where, and why of your story. It gives the writer a chance to amplify their message to the reporter before they read the body of the release.
This is the first paragraph of the body inside your press release. Next to the headline, the lead is crucial in “hooking” the editor, journalist, or reporter into the subject of your announcement. Start off with location and date of where the announcement is relevant or made effective. Again, this should summarize the 5 Ws of the announcement and also the how. By reading just the lead, the reader should also understand why they should care and get a gist of the announcement without having to read the paragraphs that follow.
All paragraphs that follow in the body of the press release should support the lead to make the announcement more interesting. It can contain tempting quotes that provide unique perspectives, facts, figures from those directly impacted by the announcement. It is written in the “inverted pyramid” technique in which the most important information is presented first so if the story needs to be abbreviated, no crucial information is lost.
The boilerplate is a paragraph that provides background information on your company or organization. It is standardized copy that is used repetitively in external facing documents. This can be summarized in your closing paragraph in the body or can be inserted as a paragraph of its own that is placed directly after the body.
The Three #s
It is standard practise to end the press release with three #’s as such ###. This signals to the reader that this is the end of the document.
The contact information section is a crucial part of the press release. It directs the reader to contact you or another person to answer follow up questions. Insert the full name, position, company, email, and direct phone number of the person who is handling all of the inquiries into the announcement. This person should be knowledgeable and have the ability to set up interviews with the spokespeople assigned to the announcement. In most instances, the person who is writing the press release is usually the representative too.
Though components like the use of a subheading or where to place the contact information is varied, there may be some structures that work better than others. What are your thoughts on this structure? Have you used other structures that work better for you?
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