How to write for media – key ingredients of a good press release

Topics, trends, title & timing

Although there are many new ways to spread the news of your company, a well-written press release is never outdated. A good press release is still a quick and cost-effective means to “spread the word” if it gets published in many different media outlets and reaches your audience. However, there are some things to consider to make your press release a success.

Preparing the ground

Before you start writing your first press release, take some time for proper preparation. Make sure that you have something newsworthy to tell and that you have all the important information at hand you will need. Structure your text beforehand, so that you can write about all you want to communicate. The following framework guides you through the writing:

1) Headline (your message) and sub-headline (provides details of this message)
2) 1st paragraph – basic information (to answer the 5 “W” questions)
3) 2nd, 3rd and following paragraph – additional details
4) optional – customer quote or quote from your own executive management to give the information a more personal touch
5) Boiler plate company
6) Provide an image

Headlines: Attention, please!

Good headlines will a) tell the reader exactly what this press release is about and b) arise some interest. Make sure that the headline is not too long (keep it under 100 characters), yet includes all information “in a nutshell”. Make it a catching one! Use the sub headline to get into more detail: you can already answer some of the “W” questions (see below) to provide the most important facts. If headline and sub-headline both do their work, they will lure the potential reader into wanting to read the entire text.

Information first! Starting with the most important

The first paragraph should give a concise and clear summary of your news. At best it should answer all five “W” questions:

    • Who is this about?
    • What is the news?
    • When does this happen?
    • Where does this take place?
    • Why is this news?
  • Keep the information succinct and be precise! Remember that editors often need to shorten a press release, because space is limited. That means if you put the major facts upfront, you will make sure nothing important is missing. Also, journalists tend to copy the press releases 1:1 due to time constraints, and only marginally adjust the wording. By providing a neat, concise text, you will make it easier for them to publish your press release.

    Additional details for all who want to know more

    The rest of the text can be used for details that add to the content on top of the most important information. As with the first paragraph, please be as concise as possible – don’t use too many embellishments, stay to the facts. Don’t get lost in too many details that might be difficult for the journalist to understand. In a last paragraph of the main text, you can provide the reader with a “call to action”, for example by offering downloads of additional material, or by inviting them to an event or a webinar, etc.

    Optional customer quote

    If available you should include a short quote or two. This will give the press release a more personal touch, conveys reliability and allows you to use lively language in your press release.

    Company information

    At the end of the press release, you should include a short paragraph about the company releasing the press release “boiler plate”, plus contact information (company contact or media contact, or both).

    Put your reader in the picture!

    Give journalists something to work with that says more than a thousand words – a picture. The person who will decide whether to publish your press release or not will appreciate it very much if you provide him or her with accompanying image material.

    Target and Timing matters!

    Choose the appropriate distribution form and the appropriate target audience. Make sure that you are reaching out to the right segment of journalists and put some thought on the timing as well.  When would you like to receive some news? Monday morning before your first meeting? Friday afternoon, just in time for the weekend? The overall rule is that Tuesday to Thursday works best.

    We wish you lots of success in your press work and lots of published press releases! And if you need support, we are always happy to help  🙂