How to write a press release

Chances are you want to get in front of the media if you’re a business owner. Not only do national and local news media boast a captive audience, but they also have the potential to send you along on their upward trajectory.

It’s frightening talking to a journalist. I know this because I am one and during my career I’ve had people literally flee from me after I introduce myself. But, I’m people, too. I’m not the boogie monster. Likewise, the media is not the enemy. Once you realize the next step in marketing yourself is to do so through the media you may become overwhelmed with anxiety at the thought of approaching the press.

As always, the key lies in your preparation.

The best way to contact a mediaperson remains via email. (I will elaborate on this in another post.) But first, let’s get you started on a rough draft of your first press release.

1. The Five W’s

Raise your hand if you remember the five W’s from English class? It seems obvious, but many business owners, and even public relations professionals, forget to include these equally important aspects in their press release. Who are you; What do you do/sell; Where are your headquarters (this is especially important to local media)/Where is your product or service distributed; When did you open/expand/relocate; and Why are you contacting me?

2. Define yourself clearly

The biggest mistake you can make in a press release is not clearly defining your business. Be careful not to use industry jargon. You should be able to state what your business does or provides in one sentence. This sentence should be contained in the first paragraph of the press release. You can further expand on your company’s background at the end of the press release in the “about us” paragraph.

3. What’s the benefit to the public?

This should be a part of your business plan, so if it’s stumping you, it is time to take a look at your business model.

4. Highlight the hook

Journalists are as attracted to large Fortune 500 companies as they are small businesses. This is in our blood. We write about corporations because they’re sexy and increase our SEO, and we report on small businesses because we want to beat our competitors to the next new thing. Mid-sized businesses tend to get lost in the fold because they don’t have the resources to market themselves but they also don’t need us as much. Journalists want to know how you’re different from everyone else. You know how you’re better and different, so outline the facts without selling yourself.

5. Include contact information

Always let the journalist know who they can contact if they’re interested in more information. It’s wishful thinking — but journalists prefer to speak directly to the C-suite executives over the public relations professional. No hard feelings, we just want to hear it from the horse’s mouth. Finally, always, always include your website URL.

Watch out for more on the nitty gritty of writing a press release in a later post.

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8 thoughts on “How to write a press release”

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