The press release is one of the most important pieces of marketing ammunition you have (second only sometimes to the case study). Not only does it provide you with a format to present your news to the world, it can also be used (without circulating) simply on your website.
Press releases should be short and to the point. Use simple, straightforward language and omit industry jargon. Short sentences will help make it easy to ready and understand – use 8 to 10 words but do NOT go beyond 25 words per sentence. It should be about 1 to 1.5 pages long (in 1.5 spacing) in a Word doc.
When you write a press release, you MUST answer the following questions. Who, what why, where and when in the first paragraph. The how can be addressed in subsequent paragraphs.
Who – Who is involved (you, your customer, your partner)
What – What is the pieces of news that this is about
Why – Why is this important (to the rest of the world – not your company)
Where – Where did/is this happening?
When – When is this/did this happen?
How – How did this come about?
Your title should be short and to the point. It doesn’t need to be too clever. Journalists will edit the title to suit their story anyway. You can also use a subheading if the title doesn’t explain the content fully. That should be in italics and centred under the main heading.
If it’s a new customer story, then include a customer quote. You should also include a quote from your own company about the new customer (or whatever you are announcing). Try to be a bit more imaginative than “we are delighted…” Say something positive about the customer and its business instead.
There are different layout formats for different countries. In Ireland, the press release has a similar layout to the US, as well as some parts of Europe. But the UK layout is different. So make sure your template is the correct one for the country you are circulating your press release in. Use 1.5 line spacing.
Here’s a UK press release example from Oxfam. In Ireland (and USA) we start the first paragraph with:
Dublin, Ireland: 15 July 2020. Aisling Foley Marketing, B2B technology marketing consultancy, announces ….
Here’s a template describing the USA release format.
Of course, if you wish to target non English language publications, then make sure your press release is translated into that language. It’s vital to consider your target audience. A press release for a technical publication is quite different to one for a general audience.
Your press release also needs an About section. This is called the boiler plate and describes your company and/or offering in one paragraph. This should be around 100 words and end with your web address.
When possible, have a corresponding image. One that isn’t just a head and shoulders of your CEO. If it’s a customer announcement, have a joint photo. Anything a bit quirky will help your release be used. It is usually best not to send the photo with the email as some servers block emails with attachments. Instead include a note at the end saying that photos are available on request.
When the release is complete write ENDS on a line on its own and centre it. Editor notes or notes related to images should be included after this point.
You need of course to include your boilerplate (About), contact person, email and phone number.
Use email to circulate the release to your target journalists and publications. Put your title in the subject line and copy and paste the release into the email. Again, don’t send attachments. It may not make it through and if it does, probably won’t be read.
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