A former journalist named Ivy Lee wrote the first-ever press release on behalf of his client, the Pennsylvania Railroad, in response to a 1906 train wreck. To ensure that the media had accurate information about the accident, he wrote a statement, and the New York Times ran his release verbatim.
The very first press release teaches 2 key things about what they should always provide:
Press releases have grown and changed in a variety of ways over the years, and they have proven to be a vital tool for many businesses and organizations. Yet, these two key lessons have persisted to this day.
Press releases are a vital tool for communicating your news, achievements, and opinions to the media and the public. They can help you generate publicity, enhance your reputation, and attract new customers. But writing a good press release is not as easy as it sounds. You need to craft a clear, concise, and compelling message that grabs attention, conveys your key points, and motivates action. Here are some tips on how to write better press releases.
This is probably the biggest mistake I’ve seen when it comes to writing a press realize so let’s just address it off the bat. A press release is not a marketing document. You should not be using superlatives in the release. It is not your job to tell the journalist how revolutionary the news is or how your product is going to disrupt a trillion dollar industry. Let the journalist reach that conclusion.
A press release, if done right, is as dry as a legal document. It should tell the story to the audience and should answer the question, “Why do I care?”
If your company raised money, for example, the release should include information like how much was raised, who invested, what that money will be used for, and how much money the company has raised to date.
The release should not include how huge the news is and how the company is changing the world.
This is a general rule of thumb with communication. Always assume that the recipient is busy and does not have time to read long texts. The press release should be brief and concise. It should tell the audience what the story is and why they should care.
The format of a press release is straightforward and easy to follow. It should include a title, a subtitle, a date, a location, a single page of text that should include a paragraph about the company.
Anything besides that is unnecessary.
The title should tell what to expect.
Unlike the subject of an email that’s intended to get me to open the email, the title of a press release should sum up the story.
“Company raises capital to expedite growth.” “Company signs strategic deal to bring its product to new geographies.”
Just tell what the story is and let me determine how significant it is.
Somewhere in the text, add a quote from the CEO or another executive. The quote should address the news and how that news will impact the company. The quote, like the release, should be short and sweet and should reflect the opinion of the executive.
Remember the goal of this release is to convey important information to your intended audience. If someone goes over the release and wants to learn more, you want to get them that chance by telling them who to contact for more information.
Generally speaking, when writing a press release, always remember what the goal is and anything that doesn’t help you accomplish that goal should be avoided.
Adding contact information is a no-brainer and should allow the audience to inquire about the story in more detail.
Most of the guidelines of writing a press release are good to follow when communicating in general.
State your goal, keep it short, think of the other side, and don’t keep me wondering what you want.