Writing in Press Release Format

Following the rules never seems like much fun.

But sometimes, it’s necessary.

For example, if you’re writing a press release.

There is a correct format to use for press release writing. Observing this format shows respect for the reporters and journalists who may be reading.

After all, your ultimate goal is to get your story picked up by the media so that they can bring it to the attention of potential clients and customers.

But journalists have more press releases in their inboxes then they can possibly figure out what to do with. So if your press release does not adhere to the rules of proper format, it will feel as if you don’t respect their time, and they may not bother to read it. In this case, your press release has a good chance of heading into the trash before it ever sees the light of day.

Here are some guidelines to keep in mind to help you make your press release look as professional as possible.

Choose a Newsworthy Topic

If your story is going to get the attention of the public, it has to be newsworthy.

A newsworthy story contains some or all of these elements:

  • Timeliness

  • Relevance

  • Proximity, and

  • Human Interest

To choose a topic for your press release, think about recent developments in your business or organization. How might these developments affect others?

You can always take a look at our collection of press release ideas to gain inspiration if you’re stuck.

Craft a Headline

This may be the most important part of your press release, so take time to make it punchy and memorable. Your headline is the first thing that readers will see. Here is where they decide whether or not they will keep reading.

For that reason, it’s critical that your headline conveys the most newsworthy element of your story. Anyone should be able to tell exactly what your story is about just from looking at the headline.

Also it’s important that your headline is long enough to get your message across, but short enough that it can easily be picked up by search engines. The ideal length is 60-100 characters.

It can also help your SEO if you include the name of your business in the title.

You can check out some of our examples to see what an effective headline looks like. Here is just a small sample:

  • “Elite Medical Scribes Co-Owners Recognized as 2017 Young Entrepreneurs by Minnesota Business Magazine”

  • “InOut Labs President Completes Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses Entrepreneurship Program”

  • “Largest Network of Christian Business Advisory Groups Announces Further Expansion in Northeast Florida”

  • “Share Lawyers’ Case Management Software Conversion is Good News for Clients”

  • “Insta360 Launches ONE, 4K 360 Camera with Groundbreaking ‘Shoot First, Point Later’ Technology”

And a quick note about subheadings: these are optional. Include them only if you can write a strong subhead that builds on the newsworthy elements of your story. Make sure that it adds new information instead of simply restating your headline.

Write a Strong Opening Paragraph

Once you’ve grabbed your audience’s attention with a strong headline, your next step is to hold onto that attention with a concise but meaty first paragraph.

A good press release is sequenced in a way that feels almost feels backwards. Instead of setting the scene and gradually leading up to your big story, a press release requires the big news to be laid out right in the beginning. Remember that journalists will use that first paragraph to decide whether or not they should keep reading. So don’t waste this essential space with trivial fluff. Give the audience the key points about your story immediately and succinctly. Stick to the 5 W’s and H: who, what, where, when, why, and how.

The Rest of the Story

Now that you’ve given readers the bare bones of your story, it’s time to flesh it out with more detail in the remaining paragraphs of your press release.

Here are great examples of the kinds of details that can make your story interesting enough for reporters to cover it:

  • Quotes from customers or key stakeholders

  • Statistics about a problem that your product or service solves

  • Facts about how your business started or what it has accomplished

  • Data revealing the popularity or the need for your product or service

  • Brief anecdotes that add human interest

Most importantly, anything you add to your press release should enhance or build on your main message, that newsworthy element you identified at the beginning.

The Final Paragraph: Leave Them Wanting More

Your final paragraph should leave the reader with the desire to find out more about your company. How do you do that?

Include a strong and clear call to action. Tell readers exactly what you want them to do and how to do it.

Here are some examples of strong calls to action from releases we have published.

  • “Learn more about the game and rewards for backing the campaign at Dinomals.com.”

  • “Consumers looking to secure health care coverage during the open enrollment period beginning Nov. 1 and ending Dec. 15 should make an appointment with a certified Community Council Health Care Navigator by calling toll-free 1-844-831-9600 or by visiting www.ccadvance.org.”

  • “For retailer inquiries, contact Mike Metro at 321-209-4779 or Mike.Metro@Zippy-Bites.com .”

As you can see, a critical component of a strong call to action is contact information: a website, an email address, and/or a phone number. Double-check several times to make sure this information is accurate! You would be amazed how often someone writes and distributes a great press release which fails to accomplish their goals because the phone number is one digit off or the email address is missing a letter.

So there you go! There are the “rules” for writing a great press release that grabs the attention of the media.

While these guidelines may make the process easier for you, crafting a great press release takes time. As a business owner, your time is very valuable. Fortunately, we can help! Our press release writing service, PR Copywriter, can give you access to professional writers at prices starting as low as $45.

With the right assistance, your press release will more than pay for itself in increased website traffic and an expanded customer base.