Elements of an Effective Press Release, by Adele Sammarco
April 12, 2011 Comments Off on Elements of an Effective Press Release, by Adele Sammarco
As a communications and marketing professional who also served as a Journalist, I understand the importance of a well-crafted press release. Although the content of the press release is always the most important element, how you present it can make the difference between comprehensive coverage and no attention whatsoever.
First, learn the style conventions. Press releases start with a standard title and include contact information at the top. They should be double-spaced and written in a clear, commonly used font. Press releases also need to be kept to a single page and end with ### at the bottom of the page. Countless Web resources provide examples of professional-looking press releases, so avail yourself of this free source of guidance.
Next, write your release as if it were a news article. Use short sentences. Lead with a hook, and answer the five W’s (who, what, where, when, why) as quickly and clearly as possible. Your release should be objective and factual, featuring a neutral, reportorial tone of voice. Don’t provide opinions or interpretation, but do write in an engaging format. You want to make the piece interesting to read, showing the reporter or editor why your story would be worth following up. If you can’t make the story interesting in that style, you probably don’t have something newsworthy to share and reporters do not like press releases that waste their valuable time.
Another good rule of thumb is to focus on the human aspects of the story as much as possible. While some pieces will be about facts and statistics, stories about people will appeal to a much larger audience. Good press releases also explain things in plain, everyday language or colloquialism. Notice that the last sentence didn’t say “perspicuous, quotidian language,” which would have been synonymous, but less clear. Word choice and sentence structure can make or break a press release. Similarly, spelling and grammar need to be flawless.
Finally, make sure to time your press release properly. Radio, cable and television shows may air breaking news nearly immediately. For print, try to get your release to the organization a few days ahead of time. Any piece that will require follow-up by a reporter or editor should be sent well in advance. Magazines, for instance, plan their stories up to three months in advance.
About Adele Sammarco: Adele Sammarco has worked as a Director of Communications, Public Relations Director, and Investigative Journalist. She is often asked to speak at city, state and national organizations about her experiences working as a Criminal Justice Reporter in New York City. She is a member of the National Association of REALTORS(R)(NAR), New Jersey Association of REALTORS(R)(NJAR) and the Monmouth County Association of REALTORS(R)(MCAR), as well as a member of the Screen Actors Guild (SAG). Adele is a Licensed Real Estate Professional with Robert DeFalco Realty in Colts Neck, New Jersey, serving Monmouth and Ocean Counties.