The Press Release
A press release is a stylized capsule report on what a company or entrepreneur thinks is news. It contains a headline, a zippy lead paragraph that elaborates on the headline, backup quotes and other information and a contact phone number. It is written a little like a news story, containing the most important information first, and ending with a short description of the company or organization.
The headline should be written to “tell and sell.” It needs to be short, snappy and, above all, accurate. The headline will pull in readers, and they'll need to feel that the release backs up the claims made in the headline.
The lead paragraph needs to answer the five questions that most news stories ask: Who, What, Where, When and How. Take some time with the lead paragraph. It should be as exciting as possible, while remaining scrupulously accurate and information-filled.
The quotes give the opportunity to plug the product or service shamelessly. If you want to tell your audience that your product is the greatest thing since sliced bread, then the quotes are the place to make that point.
Further information includes an elaboration on the value of the company's product or service, as well as context on why the “news” in the release is important.
Boilerplate, which is what the last paragraph is called, contains a basic description of the company. Usually, the same description is used at the end of all a company's releases. It might describe what market the company serves, where it is located, how many customers it has, and what problems its products or services solve.
Contact information tells the journalist who to call if they want more information. Generally, reporters regard a press release as just the start of the story. Most journalists, but not all, will follow up on a release to get more information. It is essential that the contact person be readily available for the first few days after the release goes out. Too often, a company president insists on being the contact, then goes into all-day meetings when the release is sent out.
Finally, write about 300 to 500 words per release. Journalists receive dozens of releases each day, and they'll toss any one that is overly long. Keep the copy focused on your main point, which should be in the headline.
Social media releases
Most press releases are written like a newspaper story that flows from paragraph to paragraph. But the social media release, which contains all the elements mentioned above, also includes photos, video and possibly audio for use on TV, the Web and radio. A social media release's added elements means that it is immediately available to more media platforms, making it easier for journalists to post to the Web or put into print without unnecessary followup phone calls.