Writing a press release is like going on a road trip
Writing a press release is like going on a road trip, with your spouse, your 3 kids, and the family Chihuahua.
First things first
You need to let everyone know the destination from the very beginning of the trip. Are you heading to the national park in a camper van or the Fiji islands in the family sedan? They need to know what to expect from the trip.
What this means is that from the very first paragraph of your release, you need to clearly state what the press release is about, as concisely as possible.
What’s the press release about?
For this illustration, our press release destination will be to communicate the key findings from a study on US Working Conditions. This objective needs to be highlighted in your release using an attention-grabbing headline, a subhead if needed, and the lede – which is the first paragraph of the release.
Some of your readers will be as patient as your spouse, while others may be like your easily-distracted two-year-old who just wants to know “Are we there yet?” So the sooner you can get to the point of your release, the better.
The 5 Ws and 1 H
Stating the reason you are writing the release, is identifying its why. There are four other Ws and one H that your press release must include. They are the who, what, where, when, and the how. Who is the organization or organizations involved in the story, what exactly did they do, where and when did it happen, how was it executed? Spread these details through the body of the release based on relevance and strengths, using quotes from official spokespersons at intervals.
Facts, facts, and more facts
As with the family road trip, it is important to communicate all the key information necessary, especially the benefits, to sway the sentiments of all parties involved in your favour. You also need to know which of the data from the US Working Conditions study would be most vital to the reader. Just as you would need to know if your spouse is primarily interested in washroom stops during the road trip, but for your 6-year-old daughter, it is getting chocolate ice cream upon arrival. Identify what parts of the entire information you have would be most interesting to your core publics.
For example, would they be more interested in the fact that 62 per cent of Americans do monotonous tasks at work or that 80 per cent have steady jobs? Pick the most important areas of interest to your publics then weave it into your release in a fluid sequence.
In selecting and sorting which information goes into the release, you also need to decide if you want to highlight the positives, the negatives, or preferably, a mix of the two. You would be better able to structure your writing by having a big picture approach and using an inverted triangle style – arranging the information with the most important details at the top and then flowing down.
Key steps to remember
Here are the basic steps to writing a good press release; find your angle, identify divisions in the information, group similar information, determine key lead information, craft a catchy headline, write your lede, add two to five body paragraphs with supporting details, include quotes within those paragraphs, end with your contact information and boilerplate – a brief description of the organization or organizations behind the press release.
And that, my dear friend, is how you write a press release.
I wish you success with your first press release and a fantastic family road trip.
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