By Jill Lublin

What is a press release? It is a release of a story to the news media. A press release answers the who, what, where, when, and how of a story. Start with an exciting lead paragraph. Usually media people don't read beyond the first paragraph, so if you don't capture them quickly, it will be hard to get their attention after that. If it is well written, concise, and contains good information - your chances of getting published are increased.

The first words at the top left column in bold and headline format are FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE. That means if your news isn't immediate, don't send it out. You usually have one shot at getting news stories. When you send it out the first time, make sure your timing is right, that you have enough product, and are really ready for the demand that is sure to follow if you get media placement.

Across from FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE, right justified, give contact information - the name of your publicist or your representative. I do not recommend this person being you if you are the one the news if is about. It is best to have someone else represent you.

In the first paragraph, start out with what city you are from, e.g., (San Francisco, CA). Put the location in parentheses. Make sure your press releases are double spaced (or at least 1 1/2). This allows the editor to modify them. Watch your spelling. Press releases are the first source of information to the journalist, news producer, etc. This is your first communication and impression. Make sure it is a good one. One page is best and ensure that it is neat, clean, and presentable as well as well formatted.

Use the first paragraph to grab attention. If you are having an event, tell everything about the event in the first paragraph - where it is, when it is, how much are tickets, date, etc. If it is a product, mention price, quantities, and where to purchase the product. Sometimes editors will cut the information after the first two paragraphs so you want to make sure the most important information is first. Keep you information straight ahead in the press release. No fancy hype - just tell it like it is.

Second and third paragraphs are expansions of the first. Try to get a quote from someone famous or noteworthy about what they are saying about the event, product, service, or your company. The point is to get other people as a reference. Put your press release on company stationery. Make sure contact information is contained within the press release, for example numbers to call and addresses to write to.

Do not fax releases into newsrooms unless your media contacts are expecting it. These get filed in the round circular file (the wastebasket). The only time to fax press releases is after you made contact with you media person and they are looking for it. There are exceptions, but it is risky.

The most important thing about press releases is to follow them up. Do not assume just because you sent it that either somebody has read it or has seen it. The key to successful placement of press releases and your news information is follow up, follow up, follow up!

Jill Lublin, CEO, Promising Promotion, Author of "Guerrilla Publicity", part of the best selling Jay Levinson Guerrilla Marketing series, Adams Media - June 2002
Powerful public relations to get your word out for your product, service, business or message. - "It's not who you know, it's who knows you".
Jill is the host of the nationally syndicated radio show "Do the Dream," featuring guests such as Deepak Chopra and Don Miguel Ruis, author of "The Four Agreements." You may view her website at

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