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How to write a good press release

In today’s overworked and understaffed newsrooms a well-written press release stands a good chance of being published. But don’t rely on this. Reporters and editors stick proudly to their editorial principles and will only use a press release if it is worthy of publication.

To ensure your press release hits the newsstand and not the bin here’s the Mackman Group’s top ten guide for success:

  1. Include an attention grabbing headline: this is the hook so make it work
  2. Make sure the first line tells the story, but leaves enough to encourage further reading: Journalists are very busy people and don’t have time to trawl through copy to find the story
  3. Write the body copy: write this as you want it to appear in the news story and use double-space. Most journalists will want to put their own slant on a story. The key is to make it as easy as possible for them to cut and paste onto the page so make it ready for press.
  4. Get a quote in early: quotes give a story life and action. Look at the majority of news stories – the quote from the key person usually appears by the third paragraph.
  5. Keep it simple: use short, sharp, concise sentences without jargon.
  6. Facts are news – so stick with them: And make sure your copy answers the news story mantra of: who, what, when, where, why and how.
  7. A page is long enough: However important you think your press release is, never spill onto a second page. Journalists don’t have time to read an 800-word story.
  8. Research the publication you are sending the press release to and adapt it to their style: If they write in a tabloid style stick to sentences of 10 to 14 words. If broadsheet, then use longer sentences. If they don’t cap-up job titles – you don’t either. This will save a journalist time and increases the chances of publication.
  9. Make contact: Send the press release to a named reporter or editor, don’t use a scatter-gun approach or the odds are the press release will get lost in the crowd.
  10. For further information: This is crucial. Whether it’s to verify facts or gather more information for an extended feature, make sure you include: your contact details, the company you are representing, and if relevant, websites for further reading on the subject.

And finally: Send it in the morning. Most news lists are put together early so your press release will stand a better chance of making the list if it arrives in time. Adding a captioned, high-resolution picture is also a good idea as it can get a smaller story better coverage on the page.

Jonathan Schofield

“Use our handy guide to make sure you’re writing and sending press releases that journalists will respond to.” Jonathan Schofield, PR & Communications

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