How to write a press release

newspaper-dress

Have you just set up an online store? Or do you have some great news about your business that just begs for a wider audience? Then how about sending out a press release!

Press releases were originally written for journalists, to get them to write about your news in the popular press. But since the advent of easy online PR distribution channels, the humble press release now has a wider audience and can drive traffic to your retail website.

It’s not difficult to write a press release, but they do have a specific layout, tone and written content, so here’s how to
go about it…

The hook

You first need to have something interesting to announce and a ‘hook’, or angle, to grab the reader’s attention and reel them in. Popular hooks include:

  • tying into a topical subject such as a current affairs item, holiday or event
  • announcing the release of a new product or collection
  • sharing a human-interest item, such as an inspirational story from one of your customers
  • winning new business or an industry award
  • participating in an event or charity fundraiser.

The content

As you compile your press release, it pays to remember that you’re telling, not selling. The content should contain factual information, backed up by quotes from relevant people. Minimise any technical or industry jargon so you don’t put off readers who are not familiar with your terminology.

Always write a press release in the third person (they, them and their) and use keyword phrases to optimise the release for search engines. If you have an image, you can attach or include that too.

The layout

Release information – Write “Media Release” at the top of the document. Follow it with release instructions like “for immediate release”, or if it’s time sensitive “release after 12pm, 10 April 2013”, for example. Add today’s date and your city location.

Headline – Just like in blogs and emails, the press release headline is hugely important. Spend time creating a strong headline that captures the crux of your story and compels the reader to explore further.

Summary – The lead paragraph should lend more information to the headline and, again, keep the reader interested. It should contain the “who, what, when, where and why” of your story.

Body – Go into further details in the main body of the release, such as the background of the story and any statistics. Break it down into short sentences and paragraphs, and add quotes from key people such as a customer or even yourself!

To finish – At the end of the news story, write “————ends———-“ to signify that the news item is complete.

About – After the story, add a short profile of your company.

Contact details – At the foot of the page, add the contact details of the person who is happy to handle any further enquiries.

Check and check again

Once you have drafted your press release, print it out and read through it for correct use of grammar, readability and any typographic errors. Give it to someone else to look through too – I can’t tell you how many times a fresh pair of eyes has caught something I missed. Your final release should be polished, error-free and easy to read.

Now spread the word!

Old school media relations are still important, but a lot of small business owners don’t have relationships with individual journalists that they can send releases to directly.  An online press release distribution service such as www.PRweb.com, www.prlog.org, www.newsmaker.com.au or www.clickpress.com will publish and push your press release out to news sites for publication, sometimes for free.

This attracts a wider audience of both journalists and anyone searching online.

Need an example? Keep your eyes open for a Spiffy Stores press release going out soon!

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About Alison Hardy
Alison Hardy

Alison Hardy Alison is a freelance copywriter and content marketer. She specialises in dynamic online copy that helps small businesses reach and connect with the people that need them.

With a Southern Pommie accent and an unAustralian dislike for seafood, Alison came to Australia at the end of the last century. Despite these obvious disadvantages, she was offered a job in the ecommerce department of a local Internet company and has been working in digital communications ever since.

In the heady days of the first dot com boom, before she became a queen of copy, Alison helped produce websites. But project management wasn’t creative enough for this sassy lassie so she switched her attention to marketing and communications. Much more fun!

She spent the next 10 years in marketing roles, promoting businesses in the education, art, technology and online retail industries. This invariably involved writing persuasive copy online, offline and sometimes even in the line at the post office. Her talents helped her produce powerful copy for a wide range of purposes like websites, flyers, adverts, enewsletters, emails, social media and blog posts.

In 2012, she became one of the growing number of fearless people who take a leap of faith to work for themselves. Nowadays, you will find her in her slippers with a cat on her lap, wrestling sentences to create smart content to bring businesses to life.

A wordsmith, online champion, creative problem solver and a lover of strong tea, Alison has been working with us at Spiffy Stores for many years. She has helped us with marketing advice and writing content for our website, blog and knowledge base.

She’s pretty nice to work with, and thankfully has learnt to polish off a prawn or two so she can’t be all that bad. If you would like to hire her to write great copy for your website or marketing materials, visit www.alisonhardy.com for samples of work and her contact details.