How to write a winning press release

Not so long ago, PR and marketing professionals were predicting the end of the humble press release as digital communication channels exploded and social media took centre stage.

Press releases were deemed out-dated and old fashioned, relegated to the past. But despite the expected demise, they remain an effective and relevant tool for communicating news.

Why is that?

Basically, not only does a well written press release tell the story of a product, brand, or service. If pitched correctly, the news will also reach the target audience, which is the aim of the game.

So, forget the naysayers. The press release is here to stay and should be considered by any businesses wanting to shout about their work.

Keep reading to find out how it works.

Find a newsworthy angle

First and foremost, a press release is a short news story filled with facts that is written for the benefit of the press (hence the name).

Think of the media as the gatekeeper for a story. If they like the press release and it contains a newsworthy angle, then they will probably publish it, placing the story in front of the intended audience – their readers.

Use the inverted pyramid structure

The inverted pyramid structure is used to ensure the most important information is featured at the top of the release. That way, if an editor cuts out the final paragraph, the key messages will still be included.

Remember, media people are busy people, so it’s crucial to catch their attention straight away.

Here is an example of the inverted pyramid structure:

  • Paragraph 1: sum up the entire story
  • Paragraph 2: add context and explain why it’s important
  • Paragraph 3: include more detail, such as who’s involved
  • Paragraph 4: feature a great quote that adds value to the release
  • Paragraph 5: explain how people can find out more, attend an event, or get in touch

Focus on the ‘w’ questions

The ‘w’ questions will provide the backbone to the press release and will help to define the news angle.

‘W’ questions:

  • Who: the company/person/brand
  • What: e.g. releasing a new product or service; announcing a new client
  • Where: the location where it is based or where something is happening
  • When: the date when the new thing will happen
  • Why: the reason for the development
  • How: the actions involved

Write an attention-grabbing headline

Never underestimate the power of a strong headline. One that is clear and concise with simple, powerful language.

Without a great headline, it’s unlikely that the journalist/editor will continue to read the rest of the story. No matter how great the writing might be.

And in the online world of digital communications, that means making the headline click-worthy by including SEO keywords for the target audience.

Focus on one story

When writing a press release it can be tempting to reveal everything in one go and shout to the roof tops about how great a company is. But it pays to send out news strategically.

By sticking to one story for each release, the overall message can be carefully controlled. It also provides the opportunity to send out a second release later.

The drip-feed approach is an important strategy to remember in public relations because it helps to generate interest, and press releases play a big role in that.

So, that’s it in a nutshell. Five tips on how to write a winning press release. Or, you can hire someone to do it for you – like me. Find out more by sending an email to hello@hayleymaguire.com