by John Mehrmann
You have a newsworthy item to share and a story to tell, but may need a little help to write a professional press release. This quick tutorial is a guide to the basics for writing a professional press release. Tell your story, and present it in a way that will represent your properly.
Before we begin, consider the topic and the audience for your press release. It is very likely that your announcement will pertain to a specific audience, industry, issue, or community. The headline, summary, and opening paragraph should be constructed to appeal to this target audience if you want your announcement to be read. If you are planning to post your press release to the Internet, and share your headlines with the online community, then consider keywords and phrases that are both relevant to search engines and interesting to readers. Remember, professionalism and accuracy matters, because online versions of your press release will continue to circulate for many years.
The following details are a guide for building your press release. If you are planning to post the release online, it is wise to double space between paragraphs before copying your news to the online utility. The extra spaces between paragraphs makes for easier editing and reading.
The Headline Is a Full Short Sentence in Title Case, 100 Characters or Less, and Does Not Take a Period
The summary paragraph is 200 characters or less. Do not repeat the headline, and do not use title case. Summarize the story with a hook pertaining to informative details contained in the story.
City, State (POST) Month 1, 2008 -- Grab your reader’s attention in 25 words or less. Don’t assume that your reader has read your headline or summary paragraph.
A news release, like a news story, keeps sentences and paragraphs short, about three or four lines per paragraph. The first couple of paragraphs should cover Who, What, When, Where, Why and How questions.
The body of the news release expounds on information provided in the lead paragraph. If you are introducing a special event, be sure to include pertinent dates, times, and location of the event. Alert the reader to any special requirements associated with the event, like parking or admission.
Use one or two key quotes from notable individuals, customers or subject matter experts. Quotes should contain more details about the news you have to tell, something unique or controversial, or about a prominent person, place or thing. Provide the name, title, and relevant facts about the individual being quoted. Limit quotations to one or two per release.
“Quotations provide relevance and significant highlights’” said John Mehrmann, author of The Trusted Advocate: Accelerate Success with Authenticity and Integrity.” People will remember quotes long after forgetting the facts. What will you quote that is worth remembering?”
Note that quotes appear in-between quotation marks, but titles of books and publications do not. This is an important distinction between quotes and titles. Titles of publications, media, magazines, newspapers, books, movies, and other formal titles should be italicized.
The press release should tell a story with the facts. This is what makes it interesting to read. Do not think of it as a laundry list of facts, but rather, tell your short story with pertinent facts intertwined.
Do not use words like I, Me, You, We, Best, or similar words that are commonly associated with an offer, advertising, or marketing. Your press release is a news article, not a brochure, and not a call to action. You are not making an offer to the reader, but you are stating facts as a concise third party reporter.
The body of the release must be less than 3000 characters, and less than 1000 words. Ideally, the body of the release should be less than 2000 characters with spaces, and less than 800 words for maximum appeal and distribution. It is better to have big impact with fewer words for greatest distribution. If your release is too long, it may be artificially truncated, not picked-up, and simply not read.
If your news pertains to an event with other esteemed speakers, exhibitors, or honorees, it may be appropriate to include a complimentary mention of them in your release. When quoting a notable individual or organization, it may be appropriate to provide a profile or relevant details about the accomplishments of the person or company. Remember that everything you put into a release becomes a potential keyword for online distribution.
The final paragraph of a traditional news release contains the least newsworthy material. An ideal release will summarize and restate the key points.
For additional information on the news that is the subject of this release (or for a sample, copy or demo), contact Jane Doe, or visit "my web site". You can also include details on product availability, trademark acknowledgment, or similar important references in your closing.
Include a short corporate profile about the company or the person who is newsworthy before you list the contact person’s name and phone number. Do not include an e-mail address or HTML in the body of the release. If you are uploading your release on a web utility, there is typically a place to enter your email and personal contact information.
Include safe harbor statement (if applicable).
Get your FREE Press Release TEMPLATE
A Press Release Template is available as a Microsoft WORD document for your convenience to download and edit from ExecutiveBlueprints.com. Follow the instructions in the document to create a professional press release, and save your press release to your own computer. Change the name of your document when you save it, so you can find your press release at a later date, and reuse the template as often as you like. When you are ready to post your press release online, you can choose from many free press release posting utilities, or pay a fee for expanded distribution.
IMPORTANT NOTE: The Press Release Template from Executive Blueprints includes additional helpful tips for posting your press release online. The tips are contained as instructions in the text of the downloadable WORD document. This is just one of many free templates available from Executive Blueprints.
John Mehrmann is author of The Trusted Advocate: Accelerate Success with Authenticity and Integrity, the fundamental guide to achieving extraordinary sales and sustaining loyal customers. This revolutionary book applies peak management techniques and leadership skills, with common sense and practical applications to grow business, sustain loyal customers, and use personal talents for personal success. John Mehrmann is founder of Executive Blueprints Inc, an organization that provides free training and personal skill development materials, dedicated to recognizing the value of human capital.