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.
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.