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Press Release Writing How-To

How to write a press releaseWriting a press release is actually pretty simple, particularly when you keep the goal in mind. You or your client wants some sort of media coverage about something – often an event of some sort.

A successful press release has two elements – news and interest. Here’s what I mean:

Media thrives on news – new products, new ideas, new procedures – anything that is new for you or your client.

The news also has to be interesting to a segment of readers and that’s where the art of writing a press releases comes in. For example, a new and cheaper way to prepare food, for example, is news for people who cook. It also would be of interest to food service trade magazines. A new type of car tire has an obvious market segment. Less clear is when you or your client wins an award. Sure, it’s got some news value, but you’ll have to stretch to make it interesting in most cases – the trick here is targeting the release at the right audience.

As with all writing, think about who the reader is- and the first reader is the editor of the target publications. The editor must be interesting to their audience.

Press Release Basics

The basics of a press release are the familiar:

  • Who
  • What
  • Where
  • Why
  • When

People are more interesting that things for the most part, so you usually want to start there. Obviously the what and the way are important, and where and when may also be needed, depending on who you’re addressing.

You Need A Hook

The first 10 or so words of your press release are the most important. It’s here where you grab the editor’s attention with the hook or the lead.

As a general rule, keep you lead simple; it’s those first few words that will determine if the reader (and editor) continue reading.

After your hook, simply tell your story, always in the third person, using quotes from the principle if at all possible.

Keep it short – shorter press releases are picked up more often than long ones.

Make sure the contact information is easy to spot just in case someone wants more information.

A Sample

Here’s a sample press release I did several years ago that actually got the organization some press:

On Church LetterheadDate:

Contact: Elizabeth
(xxx)xxx xxx


7th Annual Appreciation Luncheon Honoring Emergency Personnel

The Hilltop Center for Spiritual Living (Fallbrook Church of Religious Science) will hold its seventh annual appreciation luncheon honoring local emergency personnel on Wed., Feb. 15 starting at 11:30 a.m.

The annual luncheon is a way for the church and the whole community to say “thanks” to the fire department and other emergency personnel who give so much protecting our community and helping the people who live here.

The luncheon will be held at the Hilltop Center for Spiritual Living, 331 East Elder, in Fallbrook.

For additional information, and reservations, contact Elizabeth at (xxx) xxx xxx

Use client’s letterhead
Put contact info right on top
Make the timing of the release crystal clear
Headline and hook are much the same.
Be sure to make the address obvious
This is who the public should call.

Writing press releases about yourself can help bring in business; writing them for others can fatten your wallet.

Got a story about a press release you’d like to tell us?


{ 6 comments… add one }
  • Thanks for the sample press release and clearing up how to write a press release.
    Rebecca recently posted..To Freelance Writers Who Want to Earn MoreMy Profile

  • The biggest problems I see — as a journalist who reads a LOT of press releases — is releases that go on for pages, and releases that speak in jargon. When you tell me that XYZ corp has released a new MORG application for the YRG market…I throw your release away. Speak English! And don’t assume the reporter is an expert in your niche.
    Carol Tice recently posted..7 Steps to Finding Good-Paying Web Content ClientsMy Profile

  • Anne, This is a good basic example, but there’s always a catch or two as you explained.

    First to me is the NEWS, recognizing how the W’s are relevant. So you have a new product, a new employee; well so does everyone else. There’s always a shiny, new something out there. You want tell your NEWS in a way that makes that story, sets it apart from the rest.

    Hint: YOU may not always be the story, but the process, the consumer may be. Like you said, how this new doodad saves people time and money cooking. The story isn’t your doodad by Company X but rather the who, what, how people are using and saving with it.

    Second is the INTEREST, that all important hook you mentioned. What makes the story, the pitch relevant and therefore interesting to that particular paper, writer’s, website’s audience is critical. This is where research matters, so that you target your release to the right reporter, at the right media outlet, for the right reading or viewing audience. You’re right, that’s the trick.

    Like you said, think with the reader or viewer in mind. If you wouldn’t be interested in reading or sharing this story, start over before you pitch it. FWIW.
    Davina K. Brewer recently posted..It’s not rocket surgery- it’s marketing SimpleMy Profile

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