Freelance writers are often asked to write press releases. Press release writing is a key skill which allows writers to publicize their own services or promote someone else’s. Here’s what writers need to know about writing press releases.
What is a press release?
A press release is essentially a news story written to interest a specific publication or audience. It consists of three main parts: the headline, the introduction and the body. There may also be a note to editors at the end of the story which contains extra information for those not familiar with your organisation or product.
As with a news story, the lead is crucial. It should answer the who, what, where, when and why questions, right from the start. The press release should sound like a news story, with short sentences and paragraphs. Your story needs a clear angle, and no loose ends.
How do I decide what to put in a press release?
News is essentially about people, so writers should stress the people aspect of the story.
Four other techniques writers can use are:
- controversy – examples could include attacking a government decision, making a prediction about the future or suggesting a new policy
- conflict – examples include price cuts, fighting for an elected office or a battle for market share
- novelty value – describe a coincidence, a chance event or a surprising statistic.
- empathy – show how your product can help the reader, a survey on issues that concern people, provide tips to handling a common problem.
A successful press release should be:
- relevant to the people it is sent to
- focused: that is, correctly targeted
- timely: fitting in with the publication deadlines of the organization you’re sending it to
- readable: if it bores the person who does the initial read, the chances of getting it published are slim
- presented in the right format.
Most of all a press release should be news.
Sharon Hurley Hall is a freelance writer, ghostwriter and editor. Sharon worked in publishing for 18 years, writing articles and editing and designing books and magazines. Sharon writes on freelance writing for InspiredAuthor.com and publishes a freelance writing advice blog. For more information or to contact Sharon, visit doublehdesign.com.