Compiling a Press Release
The most cost effective marketing tool you have is a Press Release. It should be about the people behind the company, their history, where the idea came from, the concept and where it's going. But don’t forget, it’s not an advertisement, so make sure the information is newsworthy, not blatant self-promotion!
The information within should generally appear in the following order: subject, organisation, location, advantages, applications, details, source (known as SOLAADS). Always compose your release with the most important information first, so even if the reader stops reading after the first or second paragraph, the vital facts will have been taken in. The headline must be succinct and snappy.
Old news is bad news so never use the past tense, “mumtrepreneur is launching” is good, whilst “mumtrepreneur has launched” is bad! You can always include a sub heading to illustrate any supporting information - e.g.: “Mum’s the Business” (main), New Website to Support Every Mum in Business Launches on 1st October (sub).
Top Tips 1: Preparation and Finding an Angle
~ Gather and Organise Your Facts. The best place to start is to look at finding the answers to “The Five W’s”: Who, What, When, Where, Why and make sure you add in How, too.
~ A good press release will have an angle highlighted as the most important fact in the story.
~ Don’t issue a Press release until you have a newsworthy item otherwise it may not even be considered for publication. Your story should be unique, newsworthy or contrary to industry trends.
~ The event must be timely; yesterday's news isn't going to go far so make sure it’s very recent.
~ Try to identify what the editor is looking for, there are no guarantees that it will be published so help them rather than assume they will simply print your release. Keep in mind they are inundated with press releases so you need to stand out by having a good story to tell.
~ For maximum success, be sure that readers will be able to relate to you and your story.
~ Stick to the facts not your personal opinions or theories, except when using quotes.
~ Provide references to any statistics, facts and figures.
~ Draw conclusions from facts and statistics only, not general opinion.
~ For inspiration, look at current newspaper & magazines to see what other people have written in their releases.
~ Put a date on the release.
~ The best basis for a release is if your product, service or company is innovative from a technology or marketing viewpoint. However, make sure you don’t confuse your readers with too many technical or marketing terms.
~ You should issue a press release highlighting the benefits and functions of your product, service or new business. If you’re entering an already crowded marketplace, make sure you have a strong unique selling point (USP) to distinguish yourself by and highlight it.
What to consider as a Newsworthy Item:
~ Winning an award or receiving an accolade,
~ Forthcoming events of general interest,
~ Winning impressive clients,
~ Becoming involved in a sponsorship deal,
~ The opening a new outlet or expansion,
~ Holding an open day with demonstrations and/or freebies to the public,
~ Holding Charity events (celebrities will always increase your newsworthiness)
~ Initiating a project to benefit your local (or wider) community.
~ Customer services achievements: unusual requests from customers that you have satisfied,
~ Any other human interest story you can think of, make it original and quirky and the press may pick up on it.
Top Tips 1: The Headline
~ Grab the reader's attention by including a quirky or at least catchy headline conveying the key points raised in the opening paragraph. Use a cheerful approach that will seize their imagination and keep them reading.
~ Keep you opening headline short, less than 10 words.
~ If it is for immediate release, make this clear i.e. FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE. Followed by the opening paragraph, followed by details of the story.
Top Tips 2: The Text
~ Rule number 1 - present it clearly and professionally.
~ The most important words are the first 10 so make sure you put your point across well enough to keep the reader’s interest.
~ Your story’s angle must be outlined in the first paragraph as well as in the headline.
~ Start with a brief description of the news story, and then talk about who announced it, and not the other way around; the news is more important than the people behind it, unless of course the person is very well known.
~ Keep it concise.
~ Don’t forget you’re not writing an advert so make sure you don’t fall into sales pitch mode.
~ Avoid unnecessary jargon and buzzwords; keep it simple.
~ Write in third-person. Remove "you", "I", "we" and "us" and replace them with "he" and "they".
~ Provide quotes from the newsmakers (you!) and industry experts where possible. Quotes will add an authoritative impact to the story. If the quotes are important and relevant to the story, there is a good chance that they will be replicated in full in the published article.
~ Avoid using phrases such as "we are delighted" or "we are proud to announce", and try to introduce something a relevant that hasn't already been mentioned.
~ Avoid unnecessary flowering such as "our excellent new product" or "our fantastic new service". Maintain a simple and concise language throughout.
~ Keep in mind that the use of too many quotes could ruin the creative flow of your story.
~ Ensure you provide all contact information to enable the reader to contact you easily, address, phone, fax, email, and Web site address. Some people prefer to email whilst others prefer to pick up the phone, make sure you are accessible to all potential customers.
~ The use of abbreviations should be avoided, however if you do need them, make sure you use the abbreviation in brackets after you’ve used the non-abbreviated words - e.g. “Work at Home Mum (WAHM)”.
~ If you make claims such as "the world's number one service", “the UK’s only ”or your product is "totally unique" you must used published and credible research to back them up otherwise you risk losing your own credibility.
Top Tips 3: The Layout
~ Use at least one-inch margins on each side of the page.
~ Separate each section clearly to help the recipient to quickly access the information that they need.
~ Always complete the paragraph on one page instead of carrying it over onto the next page.
~ Use only one side of each sheet of paper.
~ Indicate clearly if a second page is included and as clear at the end of the document.
~ Template HERE
Top Tips 4: Distributing your press release
~ Always proof read (twice!) before sending
~ Make sure you send it to the right people; usually the editor unless otherwise directed, their website should give you this information. Although a specific journalist may be more ideal, it will depend upon the publication.
~ Most importantly you must send it to the right publications, ensuring that the release will hit your target audience and not be sent to those that are not relevant.
~ If you’re targeting various publications with the same story, in the same manner as you might ‘tweak’ your CV, you should write multiple releases rather than issuing one ‘catch all’ version.
~ Think twice before sending attachments, as some recipients do not open files that they think may contain a virus, or may not find attachments acceptable unless they are warned beforehand.
~ Switch off the email editor facility if your package caters for these. You don't know what email software your recipient will be using, it is far more effective to send it by email in plain text.
~ Remove bold, italics, underlining and unnecessary formatting, as when it is delivered it will be received as gibberish.
~ If sending by email, make sure it's in a format that they can edit.
~ Ideally you want your press release to be as impressive looking as possible, which will include the use of quality images. However out of virus consideration you may want to simply state that you have photos available, but that is your decision.