3 March 2015

10 tips to write a perfect press release!

Hello everyone! My poor blog has been very neglected of late as I've been super busy with lots of different things. Very exciting news - I've started a new job as Marketing and PR Officer with New Lanark World Heritage Site. I'm also in the cast of Lanark Amateur Musical Society's upcoming production of Our House, and have just started a Diploma in Online Marketing course with the Shaw Academy. 

I've been thinking about this blog post for a while as part of my new role is producing press releases for New Lanark. I also dealt with them a lot in my role at Glasgow 2014, not writing them, but being responsible for releasing them on the website/social media in line with embargos. 

I've pulled together some of my top tips for writing press releases, and would love to hear if you've got any more!

1. Make the timing clear - when you send out a press release you have to let the recipients know when they are allowed to share the information. If you're sending out a press release that has to stay under wraps until a certain date it means it's 'under embargo'. Make this clear by stating Under strict embargo until DATE and TIME at the top of your press release .doc and your email. If your press release can be shared immediately put Immediate release: DATE YOU SEND PRESS RELEASE OUT. Bold and red also never hurts to get the message across!

2. Have a good headline - At the start of your press release there should be a good headline that is eye catching, easy to read and makes people want to read more. Try and keep this to about 5-6 words maximum. Also use this headline in your word document title and your email subject line. 

   3. Get to the point in first paragraph - Your first paragraph should summarise what the press release is about and convince them it's newsworthy. The second paragraph should expand the point in more detail. The third paragraph can include supporting quotes. Finally, the fourth paragraph should again summarise the press release, include a closing statement and reference any relevant websites. 

4. Include quotes - Including quotes written in people's voices can add personal colour and life to a press release. Always mark our quotes with speech marks, and include the name and job title/relevance of the person to the press release. 

5. Include hard numbers and facts - these will help to make your story more newsworthy and will also help journalists pull out the most important information for their publication. 

6. Be succinct  - a press release shouldn't be a novel, it should be just enough to convey your news and summarise the key points - if a journalist wants to know more they can contact you (see point below!). Try and stick to one page of A4, or 300-400 words max. 

7. Notes to editor section - include ENDS at the end of your press release copy, and then an underlined title called Notes to editor. This is where you can leave your contact details (name, number and email) and any other information that may be relevant to the editor, but doesn't necessarily fit within the actual press release - such as your website address for more information. 

8. Use images where appropriate - when including images make sure to reduce their file size and attach them to your email after your word document. Make the name of the image a description of what the image is, not something random like DSC13893.jpg as this could lead to captions being mucked up. I also tend to include a copy of the image within the press release word document too so the journalist can see why it's relevant. 

9. Word not PDF - I always send press releases as word documents instead of PDFs as they are simply easier to copy and paste text from. It's also a good idea to include your press release copy in the body of your email as well as attaching it. 

10. Pressing send - you don't want all of your contacts to see who you're sending out press releases to, so send the press release email to yourself and BCC (blind carbon copy) all of your press release mailing list in.  

And we're done! I hope that helped anyone who is perhaps writing a press release for the first time, they are fairly easy to produce once you're into the swing of them but you can't ever get complacent - always check check and triple check spelling, grammar, facts, quotes and people's names. 

If you need any more help or would like to ask me any questions please feel free to tweet me @_Melissa247

Thanks, Melissa. 

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