Press Releases

There are various avenues used to promote something that is deemed important. One of these avenues is a press release. Press releases have been found to be extremely successful in spreading important information to a large audience quickly.

1. What is a Press Release?

A press release, also known as a news release or press statement, is a written or recorded communication that is aimed specifically at the news media. The purpose of the press release is announcing something that is claimed to be news worthy. It is usually faxed, mailed, or emailed to assignment editors at newspapers, magazines, radio stations, television stations, and/or television networks. Commercial press release distribution services are also used to communicate news releases. One of the many reasons that press releases are sent is for the purpose of announcing news conferences but there are countless other reasons as well.

A press release differs from a news article. A news article is a compilation of facts developed by journalists published in the news media, where a press release is designed to be sent to journalists to encourage them to develop articles on a certain subject. Usually, a press release is biased towards the feelings and objectives of the author. The use of press releases is common in the field of public relations; the aim is to attract positive media attention to the firm's client and publicity, the aim of which is to attract positive media attention for products, which are marketed by the clients as well.

2. Press Release Content Basics

When writing a press release it is advisable to begin with some basic tips and suggestions. There are seven basic elements that every press release should have in terms of content and what it looks like. The words "FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE" should appear in the upper left hand margin, just under the letterhead. Every letter should be capitalized.

As you are writing the press release, skip a line or two after your release statement and list the name, title, telephone and fax number of the person within your organization who can provide the most information. It is also important to provide a home number since reporters often work on deadlines and may need to be in contact after hours.

Skip two lines after your contact information and add a boldfaced headline to your press release.

The city that you are preparing your press release from and the date that your press release is actually being mailed should follow your headline.

When composing your press release it is extremely important to remember that the first paragraph will need to grasp and hold on to the reader's attention. Your main objective is to make sure they are captivated by what you have to say rather than losing interest. Make sure your first paragraph contains enough relevant information to your message. When writing your press release it is always a good idea to make sure that you are including the who, what, when, why, and where of what you are trying to convey.

Next, when writing the press release, is the text paragraph. This is the main paragraph that will have your message fully developed. It is important that this paragraph is clear, precise, and to the point as well.

Lastly, is the recap; at the lower left hand corner of your last page you will want to restate your product specifications and highlight a product release date.

3. How to Write a Press Release for Email Distribution

In today's day and age and the invention of the World Wide Web, as we already know, everything, including press releases, can be done through email distribution. A "conventional" press release is a brief document announcing news about a company, product, or service to media professionals. Email press releases are usually much shorter in length than their conventional counterparts. The majority of email press releases are usually no more than 500 words of text organized into five short paragraphs. Email software does allow the user to set limits on the sizes of the messages it can download. Since most individuals are unaware of this or do not set the default limit of their email software, long messages can be an issue. Because of this, it is preferable that email press releases are kept short, precise, and to the point.

When writing an email press release, remember that information, such as photographs, biographies of company executives, white papers, and supporting documents usually included in a conventional press release may be published online so reporters may easily access them at their convenience. For example, if your company has recently completed an online survey of Internet shoppers, include a brief overview of the results in the email press release then follow it up with the URL or the home page of where the results online are located. The URLs for screen shots of your Web site and products may also be included in your press release. Be advised that some reporters do, in fact, have limited online access. As a courtesy, always include a contact method for those reporters who would prefer to have materials mailed to them by conventional means instead. Another important point is that attaching photographs and supplemental information files to the email press release is not acceptable when contacting a reporter.

4. Planning Before Writing Your Press Release

Unfortunately, no one can guarantee that your press release will be published or even catch the eye of the editor you have sent it to but there are ways that you can significantly improve your chances. One of the ways you can improve your chances of getting your press release published is by careful planning. Remember that the biggest obstacle to most press releases would have to be the release itself. When writing your press release, you should always stick to the facts. Do not attempt to add unsubstantiated claims to make the press release more interesting. Your press release should always be well written as well. It is best to double check spelling and grammar when writing the press release.

Another important point to consider when preparing for the press release is to always be concise. Editors receive hundreds of press releases a week, maybe even more, and always appreciate that releases are brief, concise, and to the point. Editors also are appreciative of the truth and honest representations. You can convey this by trying to stay away from quotes by company officers. They sometimes can come across as biased even though they may be an expert in the field that you are speaking of. Lastly and probably most importantly is that your press release needs to be written in a timely matter. If your press release is not topical you can consider incorporating it with a recent news event but try and not stretch it out too much.

A helpful exercise when preparing and writing a press release is to first ask yourself some questions. Who is the preferred audience of your press release? Are you aware of possible pitfalls or areas that you should avoid? What do you want readers to take away from your press release? What does your press release provide; valuable information or just another offer? What is the tone of your press release? What is the justification for the information in your press release? Lastly, what do you hope to accomplish with your press release: increase business, disseminate information? The answers to these questions should help make planning and writing the press release much simpler.

5. How to Write the Perfect Press Release

As you know, the main objective of writing a press release is to gain publicity for your product and/or service. It is extremely easy to forget that the true purpose of a press release is to catch the attention of the press or media outlet. When you direct your press release directly to the press/media outlet, your chances of it being published are greatly increased. A press release allows newsworthy information to be released so that the general public will, in fact, receive the news.

Always keep in mind that the press release must catch the eye of the media outlet in order to have even a chance of being published. You will want to focus your press release on the newsworthy angle of your product and/or service and not just the consumer end of your product and/or service. Begin your press release in such a way that it will stand out from the thousands of other press releases sent to the media each and every day. You can do this by using an unusual fact, illustration, or unique benefit to catch the attention of the reporter or editor who is reading your press release. Next, you will want to highlight the major benefits of your product and/or services so the press release will, in fact, catch and hold the attention of the end user.

Always incorporate the important facts of who will do what, where will it happen and why, how it will be accomplished and when will this occur. Your press release should never be dull or boring or use colorful writing to try and catch the attention of a bored media professional. Place your contact information at the top of the press release so that it is easy to find and does not have to be looked for. Not being able to locate an important fact easily could be the difference in getting the press release published or not. Write a press release for the press and you will be steps above the crowd that forgets the true purpose of writing a press release.

6. How to Write a Press Release for a Specific Event

If you are intending to announce a big event, writing a press release is a great way to obtain free publicity for the event. Writing a press release can seem like a daunting task but when it's geared towards a specific event there are some simple guidelines to make it much easier. First, take some ample time and brainstorm about the event. You will want to know the who, what, when, where, and why of the event before you even begin composing the press release. It will be easier if you obtain factually correct yet short, concise answers to those questions before you begin writing the press release.

Use company letterhead when you are announcing an event through a press release. When using letterhead, it provides the media outlet who received your press release immediate information regarding your company. Always include company name, company address, and company website and telephone number on all letterhead. Place the words "PRESS RELEASE" in all capital letters prominently on the first line. This will notify the recipient that this is, in fact, nothing else but a press release. Also place the name of the contact person in a prominent location on the release if someone is seeking further information.

If the release is for immediate use, meaning that your event is to be held quite soon, indicate that by putting the words "Immediate release." If not then replace the words with the date at which the information should be released. Remember to bold the headline of the press release. The headline should be specific and sum up the main idea of the press release. You will want to now place all the details of your event within the text right below the headline. This text is considered the body of your press release and it is the most important aspect of the entire press release. All facets of the event should be covered so the reader has no lingering questions regarding the event. Always end the letter with a heartfelt thank you and encourage contact through the contact number if there are any further questions.

7. How to Get the Press on Your Side

So, how do you get the press to stand up and take notice after reading the press release you have just written? Believe it or not, it is quite simple; you need to make your cause newsworthy. News as we know it is anything that other people are interested in. To portray your press release as newsworthy you must convey to editors and reporters that you are doing something of interest to other people. Examples of this may be holding an event, telling a story; creating or participating in an event; supporting or even opposing a cause. Of course there are many others but those are just popular examples.

The task of editors and reporters to come up with new stories day after day, month after month, week after week, year after year is a daunting task. Press releases are their friends. You must have the ability not only to list achievements but to be able to publicize them properly while working with media personnel. This will cause editors to welcome you with open arms! You will have a good chance of getting your press release published as well as the opportunity for a reporter to arrange a more in depth story as well.

8. Events or Situations that can Lead to Free Publicity Almost Effortlessly

There are different situations or events that are easier to receive free publicity for than some others. If you are organizing an event that is open to the public, that is a good start in garnering the attention of a local editor or reporter. If someone is achieving significant recognition in their field is another popular choice. Also, if someone is running for office or writing new legislation or testifying at a hearing regarding a significant cause is usually also considered newsworthy. These are all examples that inevitably will help the people in or around the community.

Other community examples that can draw free publicity without too much effort is if someone is performing an important service to benefit the local community or someone offering training programs, apprenticeships, or options to volunteer to better the area as well. Press releases that are focusing on any of those ideas seem to not only catch the eye of the news media but catch the reader's eye as well. Now, of course, these are just a few; there can be many more.

You must also realize that even daily events can also get recognition as well. Though there may not be an in depth news story involved, it is still quite possible to get your releases published in the newspaper. Daily events would commonly be classified as annual meetings, hiring or promotion of employees, opening a new office in the area, or even hosting an open house. Remember to always use your imagination. Your only risk would be a postage stamp, but you have the opportunity to reach thousands of people.

9. Remember to Make Things as Easy as Possible for Your Editorial Allies

You must try and think like an editor would. Present yourself as the kind of person that editors would like to deal with. When dealing with any type of media outlet you must not only be friendly and approachable but also articulate and extremely concise. If a reporter contacts you in regard to the recent press release you just sent, always be open to answering all their questions. Be honest; if you need to research the answers and get back to them, tell them that. If you are organizing an event or attraction, allow the press in for free to cover it. Also, always know the deadlines of the media outlet you are working with and respect them. A deadline is the day and time a reporter needs to submit a story if it is going to be printed and/or broadcast in the next edition. Except for very important last minute news, these deadlines are usually set in stone. Be respectful of them by having what is needed in on time and not asking a reporter to bend a deadline for your benefit. This will lead to a bad reputation with the press, which is far more detrimental than missing a deadline. Also, respect the fact that a reporter will need ample time to work on your material and has many other press releases and stories beside your own.

As you have seen, a press release is a wonderful tool to garner publicity for a product or service. Taken step by step it does not have to be a difficult or daunting task and when successful can allow you to achieve the recognition that you deserve.
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