Writing a press release FAQs

Contributor - Ben Caine


Writing a press release FAQs12 FAQs people ask about how to write a press release

  1. How do I put a press release together?
  2. What are the objectives of my press release?
  3. What should I look out for when proofing my press release?
  4. Should I send a picture with a press release?
  5. What sort of picture should I send with my press release?
  6. How do I write a quote in a press release?
  7. Can I get someone to write a press release for me?
  8. How do I write a headline that gets picked up?
  9. What does a journalist want to see in the headline of my press release?
  10. Why do I need quotes in my press release?
  11. How do I make my press release stand out?
  12. Can I send a blog to the print media?

1. How do I put a press release together?

When writing a press release, this approach often works well:

  • Before you begin, be clear on the objectives of your press release.
  • Use your opening line to tell the reader why your story is newsworthy. What makes it interesting?
  • Then give some more information about the news.
  • Then use a quote to emphasise something important or interesting.
  • Always proofread your copy before sending it.
  • Include a relevant image.
  • Write your headline last.

Back to top

2. What do I need to think about before I start?

You need to start by thinking about what your customers are reading and what media they may trust the most.

Then think about the kinds of publications these relate to, and then finally the journalist who is likely to cover the story at each publication.

You can then plan your approach.

Back to top

3. What should I look out for when proofing my press release?

Read your copy at least twice yourself, with an interval in between. Then ask an independent person to look at it as well.

If you have written something and then read it through a couple of times already, you become blind to the errors in it.

As well as simple spelling and grammar errors in the main text, people often overlook obvious things like the wrong title or the wrong date, or out-of-date notes at the end.

It is common to generate many versions of a press release before settling on a final version. File the old versions in an 'archive' folder as you go along, to avoid sending out the wrong version.

Back to top

4. Should I send a picture with a press release?

Many websites and publications like to put a picture beside a news story, as it draws the reader's eye to the item.

Only use an image that adds something to the story. For example, a picture of the person giving the quote, or of the new product being launched.

Back to top

5. What sort of picture should I send with my press release?

Use a high-resolution image - usually specified as 300 dpi. It may be worth hiring a professional photographer to get the best quality photo.

Journalists like photographs of the relevant people or products, especially if the pictures are interesting. A good picture might be the number one reason that your press release gets picked.

Give the picture a suitable filename, such as your company name and the name of the person in the picture. Otherwise the wrong picture might get used by mistake.

Back to top

6. How do I write a quote in a press release?

Be natural and conversational, but create interest. For example, "This innovative technology will revolutionise the way people make payments" is an exciting statement if it is believable.

Expressing an opinion rather than just stating facts can usually make a press release more enticing.

Back to top

7. Can I get someone to write a press release for me?

To increase the chances of success, it usually makes sense to involve someone who already has a track record with press releases.

This might be a freelance professional writer, or someone working for a PR or marketing agency.

There are numerous websites that can put you in touch with such people. The difficulty is in knowing how good each person is.

Back to top

8. How do I write a headline that gets picked up?

Make the headline true and relevant to the content of your press release. Keep the length down to around 70 characters, otherwise it will be shortened in search lists.

Use words that create emotional engagement with the reader. 'Power words' such as You, Free, New, Because, and Instantly tend to attract readers because they trigger an emotional engagement.

Test your headlines using tools such as the AMI headline analyzer, which rates them for emotional content for different categories of products.

Finally, ask for feedback from others on the emotional impact and relevance for the headline.

Back to top

9. What does a journalist want to see in the headline of my press release?

The headline is the 'two second hook'. So it has to be captivating while also indicating what the news story is about.

For example, 'Marketing industry revolutionised by new automated software' and 'Seven in ten lives could be saved by new innovation in cancer treatment'.

In the case of some journalists, it may help to be a bit provocative.

Back to top

10. Why do I need quotes in my press release?

Journalists use quotes to spice up an article, so a good quote greatly increases the chance of a journalist writing about your story.

In newspaper and magazine articles you will often see a quote repeated in an eye-catching large font and surrounded by white space. This is what journalists call a 'pull quote' - a technique to attract readers to the item in the first place.

A good quote is like a good image - it adds colour to the article.

A quote from someone credible can also lend weight to the news item. If James Dyson is quoted saying that a new gizmo is a brilliant piece of engineering, that statement alone makes it newsworthy - whereas the inventor of the same gizmo saying the same thing carries little weight in comparison.

Back to top

11. How do I make my press release stand out?

There are four components of a press release that will help it stand out.

  • The headline, which is the initial hook - the first thing the journalist will focus on. Many press releases are discarded at this stage.
  • The first paragraph is important because it should succinctly convey what the news story is about, and why a journalist should use it.
  • Then the body of the press release will confirm whether the whole story is strong enough, and has sufficient quotes and supporting information.
  • Finally, including a good image will increase the likelihood of a press release being used.

Back to top

12. Can I send a blog to the print media?

Yes, you can. But you still need to make it immediately clear why the journalist should be interested. Is the content sufficiently newsworthy?

Back to top

Expert profile picture

contributor

Ben Caine

Ben trained as a journalist and worked at a series of local newspapers before starting his own content marketing business. He now also heads up JournoLink’s engagement, working with all their clients and partners to help them maximise the platform. ...