No matter what size you are or industry you’re in, being able to write a press release is a must for any growing business.
What is a press release and why are they important?
A press release is a way to announce important business news to any potential stakeholders. These could be existing or prospective customers, as well as local or industry media.
Let’s look at an example. Say you run a restaurant and you want to announce you’re opening a second location in the area. A press release is your way of communicating this news, helping you to attract new customers and staff to the premises. You may also want to use this as an opportunity to forge partnerships with local suppliers.
There are three main points to think about when you’re writing one:
1. What is the one thing you want to tell people? Think of this as your key message.
2. Why is this information interesting and attractive for a journalist to write about?
3. How do I ensure they pick the right message for my target audience?
Now let’s look at the structure of your press release.
The headline is your key message.
Paragraph 1 should tell readers the story around your news. If someone was to only read the headline and first sentence, they should know what the story is about.
Harry’s Pizzeria to open locally-sourced restaurant in Brighton
Harry’s Pizzeria, the popular family-run pizzeria, has announced its expansion by acquiring new premises on the seafront, in a bid to become the first restaurant serving only Sussex-sourced produce.
Paragraph 2 will include more detail on the first paragraph.
Following its launch in 2010, Harry’s Pizzeria has gone from strength to strength, continuing to serve local food to local people. With over 15 employees and a regular customer base, the restaurant will now open a second restaurant on Main Street in June.
Paragraph 3 is where you can talk in more depth about your business – your elevator pitch. In the above example you could consider writing about what Harry’s Pizzeria is, where it came from and why you chose locally-sourced produce for the second restaurant. Keep in mind you may be speaking to readers who have never heard of your business.
Add a quote or two from the most relevant people – anyone from the restaurant owner to a CEO.
Add ‘END’ at the bottom, followed by contact details and any notes to the editor, such as how you calculated figures you’ve used or sources for other information you’ve quoted.
Finish up by adding general information about the business, otherwise known as your boilerplate.
You should aim for your press release to be no longer than 1 side of A4 and accompany it with a cover email, which can highlight anything else which may be of interest to the journalist, such as the offer of an interview with a spokesperson. And don’t forget to add the date!
Sending it out to journalists
Do some research to find out if anyone has written about a similar topic recently – they may want to follow up and write about something similar again. It’s also worth knowing when journalist’s deadlines are so you can send your press release across at the right time. National deadlines tend to be early in the morning, whereas regional press are likely to have a deadline day for the following week’s paper.
If you get good responses from certain journalists or publications, you can then build relationships to help spread any further news you have in the future.