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The Key to Writing a Successful Press Release

Press releases represent a unique mode of communications, and to write a powerful release, you must follow certain rules.

First of all, do not write a press release like an English essay. Press releases are used to convey newsworthy material to editors and reporters, and they expect you to follow a standard format.

The body of the release should consist of plainly stated facts, and opinion should only appear in the quotations.

Tone represents a key component of press releases. The body of the release should consist of plainly stated facts, and opinion should only appear in the quotations.

Releases also follow a “reverse pyramid” structure with the most newsworthy material presented up front and the background towards the end. The headline should be short and succinct, and make sure to include the name of the company or product you are promoting there.

The first paragraph basically restates the headline with the second paragraph used to flesh it out. The quote should always be the third paragraph.

At the end of the release, you should include an “About” section, a generic description of the company, and you can use this “boilerplate” in subsequent releases as well.

If you are trying to get the release placed in a key magazine or journal, it helps to also include graphic support, perhaps a screenshot of the product or something else related to the topic of the release.

That’s pretty simple on paper, but you would be surprised how many PR professionals fail to follow this format. The press release drives much of its power from the contrast between the facts in the body of the release and the opinion in the quotes. The facts should be stated simply and concisely, and the quotes can contain more flowerly language.

Unless you are giving some publication an exclusive, it is perfectly fine to pitch the same release to a number of different publications. For online distribution of press releases, PRWeb provides a relatively inexpensive and popular means of distribution. PR Newswire may be used for special occasions and key events because it is much more costly.

You should read some press releases from competing organizations as well as various fields of endeavor, and you will quickly get the hang of it. One other caveat: don’t make it too long. A page and a half should be sufficient; definitely no more than two pages.

A Press Release by any other Name

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Despite the online revolution and some minor modifications, a press release is still a press release. Whether it is distribution by calling up reporters to pitch them, or by using an online distribution service, there are still certain structural and writing formats, and they must be followed.

. . . the order of the content must follow a “reverse pyramid” structure, with the most newsworthy material up front.

The rules start with the headline. It is generally a good idea to include your client’s name and, if applicable, the name of the product right up front. You can use a subhead to include other pertinent details.

The nature and order of the content differentiates the press release from other short publicity documents. The press release itself must contain only facts, leaving opinions or other superlatives for the quote (generally from the CEO in the third paragraph).

Moreover, the order of the content must follow a “reverse pyramid” structure,  with the most newsworthy material up front. The details can be filled in towards the middle and end sections of the release.

To write a good press release, you must think like a reporter. What developments will be of interest to the readers? What is the actual news in the press release? Or is it just a promotional document? Following the structural tips above will help you to focus on the news and increase the likelihood of publication.

Finally, one of the most neglected areas in press release submission involves graphic support. Press releases with a relevant graphic will improve the likelihood of publication as well as achieving a more prominent location.

Proper Format for a Press Release

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Writing a professional press release may seem like an easy task, but certain rules and formats must be followed, and doing so will increase your likelihood of acceptance by editors of your key publications.

First of all, every sentence in your press release must be factual, and opinions are only allowed in your quotation.

First of all, every sentence in your press release must be factual, and opinions are only allowed in your quotation. The quotation should not introduce new facts and should instead comment on the meaning of the new development summarized in the headline.

The first paragraph of the release should introduce your company with a brief description of its function and then basically repeat the headline. E.g., Cut-It-Out Communications, a Westchester public relations agency, today announced [headline].

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