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
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!
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 promisingpromotion.com