Writing a press or publicity release.

Writing Publicity / Press Releases


The Press (Publicity) Release

How to write a press releaseThe first thing you must do is determine why an editor, site administrator, or webmaster would be interested in reprinting or quoting from your publicity (press) release.   It must promote an event worthy of interest.   By-the-way, a new web site online is not an event and it's not news-worthy unless you're someone relatively famous or important, or you have something new or unique to publicize.

A publicity or press release:

  • MUST Be News-worthy:
    No serious editor or web site administrator will go with your submission unless they really believe that people will be interested in your event or what you have to say.   There are a growing number of online (web review sites) and offline (radio, television, magazines & newspapers) media that are interested in new web sites.   The majority of them generally have a web site of their own.  You should certainly let these people know, but they probably won't require a press release.   Just remember:  what is news-worthy to one editor may be of no interest to another.  Again, try to determine who will be interested in your event or what you have to say.

  • MUST Be Timely:
    If it is about a past event, it's probably not news unless it was a very significant event or new product release of merit.  For example:  major political results or reactions, disasters, Viagra - updated test statistics, etc)

  • MUST Be Concisely Written:
    Editors simply do not have time to sit around and read a lengthy dissertation about your web site, product or event.  Be succinct, place the bottom line up front.   The release should read like a good newspaper article.  As stated before, use the "inverted pyramid".  The primary thrust of the story goes in the first paragraph (who, what, when, where, why), with all remaining details going into following paragraphs in descending order of importance.  A full page is acceptable (if it's really warranted), but a release of just a couple short paragraphs will be far more successful.

To find out what a good press release should look like, you can check out the web sites of a few major companies and look at their press release archive.  Check out more than one.  You'll see good examples and some bad.  Compare them to the criteria you see above and ask yourself "if I were a busy editor, would I print about this".

The following format is simple and acceptable:

PRESS  RELEASE


COMPANY:    Put company name in here.
CONTACT:    Use this space to show who you are, and how to reach you.
DATE & TIME:    Indicate the date and time the release is a go!

___________________________________________

"Place Your Headline Here.  But Make It Catchy.
If it's not, the editor probably won't read the rest."
___________________________________________

TORONTO, Ontario - January 1, 2003 -- Here is where you place the text of your (publicity) press release.  Always remember to use the inverted pyramid.  Place the Five W's (Who, What, When, Where, and Why) here.

In any addition paragraphs, place other relevant and important information in descending order.  But be certain the information is important enough to be included in your release.  If it isn't necessary, then leave it out.   Don't try to over do it.  Simply be concise with your message.

Then sign off on your release.

Now you know how to write a good basic press release.   Now here's the tough part: "you have to figure out who you'll send your release to.  This can be easier said than done.    It'll take you a while to build a good database of release recipients.   For a fee, you might wish to use a submission service.  But please be careful, because some submission services can be rip-offs. 

Identify media that will be interested in your event.  Send an email to someone there and ask who you should send your release to. If you are courteous and professional, they will probably point you in the right direction. Send your release to as many people as possible, but don't waste your time sending it to people that won't be interested.

Here are three resources that will be of solid assistance to you:

Web Wire:   A service that will post your press release.  The service is used by many newspapers and other media to find story ideas.  Not nearly as effective as a custom broadcast press release, but it's a good resource if you're on a budget.

AJR Newslink:  Contains links to just about every media (newspapers, radio stations, TV) source that has a web site.  Follow the links to the media you think will be interested in your release and find out who to send it to.  This is great for building your contact base. Also contains some great articles and many other convenient resources.

Reporter's Network:   Among other things, contains a great searchable database of reporters.  Want to find a reporter interested in sports?  Do a search here for "sports events" and a list of reporters who've indicated an interest in "sports events" will pop up.

Also, you should also check out these two interesting and informative Internet links related to press releases: www.onlinepressreleases.com and www.newsbureau.com.

"What if I don't have an event to publicize?"  Well then, come up with one!   Use your ingenuity. Host an online event like a celebrity chat or forum.  You're only limited by your imagination.  For example:  Try to convince some important figure or personality to attend a trade show or public service event.  If you're successful the event might receive regional or national coverage!


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