So far, we’ve looked at how to structure your press release and how to write headlines. Next up is actually writing the body content of the release, which should give an overview of what the story is that you’re pitching.
Remember: You don’t have to write the story yourself. Just present the key facts to direct the story that you would like the journalist to tell. They may actually spot another angle which they think would make a more interesting story and come back to you on that. If they do, just make sure you’re happy with the message it will convey and embrace the publicity!
Things to remember when writing your body content:
– Make sure your story idea is relevant to the publication and interesting.
– If you can, offer exclusivity to whoever you’re sending it to, if you’re really keen for them to use it above anyone else.
– Make sure it’s professionally produced (well-written and edited).
– Stick to the structure.
– Present the main story in the introductory paragraph and keep this to no more than two to three short sentences.
– All sentences should be kept as brief and punchy as possible – cut the waffle. No more than 32 words max per sentence, but 25-30 words is a good guideline if you can keep to that.
– Use active voice.
– Write in Plain English. It makes it easier for a busy journalist who gets a lot of releases a day to skim through and understand at a glance what you’re writing about. Lots of jargon and wordy descriptions which talk around the subject without getting to the point are not good!
– Keep each paragraph short – just a few sentences each.
– Ensure that any quotes you include offer fresh information and come from someone who is relevant to the story and who is available to speak with the journalist, should they wish to follow up with an interview. (i.e. don’t include a quote from someone who’s about to go on holiday…)
– Read over your release to check that it flows properly. Get someone else to run their eye over it as well, if you can. Is the most important information in the intro paragraph? Is the message clear? Is the release relevant to this publication? If it’s for a local newspaper, is there a local angle? E.g. are you based in the area, doing an event there, or have some connection to the area to warrant the story?
NB I’ve seen many releases in the past where the relevance to location is buried somewhere at the end of a lengthy release. This info should be up at the top!
– Check spelling and grammar – it should read professionally. Also – don’t litter your release with unnecessary caps – only use where really relevant, generally for names of people, places and titles of publications etc.
– Don’t forget to include white space between paragraphs, for easier reading.
– Ensure that any contact details in the Notes to Editor section are up-to-date and that any proposed interviewees are actually available for interview (see above).
– Include further background information where necessary in the Notes to Editor section, but don’t overdo it. Again, only include what’s really necessary.
If you’ve covered all of this, then you’re in a good place when it comes to sending out your press release. The main thing is to deliver a clear and concise document that presents an overview of the story you want to be covered. If you put it together professionally and follow these guidelines then you’re on the right road!
For help with press release writing, email Claire at: firstname.lastname@example.org