Using press releases to advertise your business can be a great way of informing people about your business and the great thing is that it’s free!
But you need to know how to do it properly otherwise journalists will just throw it in the trash along with all the other amateur efforts. This article is written using feedback from journalists and explains exactly what they like to see.The first article looked at how to get the right structure and elements of the story together for a press release. This article will go through an example so that you can see how it all comes together.
Telling the story
It may seem repetitive but the recommendation is that you tell your story three times. The first time in outline, the second time in more detail and the third time with some additional material. By doing this you allow the journalist some flexibility, depending on how much space they have. If they’re short on space it may be the third time gets cut – but at least you still get your message across.
The first paragraph should be no more than 25 words in length and will probably consist of a single sentence. This, along with the title of the release, will give the first telling of the story. Names and personal details are not usually included in this paragraph.
Subsequent paragraphs should be no more than five lines long. This may seem quite small but newspapers work in columns and five lines of A4 can quickly turn into two or three column inches when written in a column only two inches wide.
Total press release size should be around 250-300 words.
You should be aiming for about 6 paragraphs as a maximum and some of these will just be two to three lines of a quote. Any longer and the release just starts to look too big.
Journalists like to see everything in a set format so that they have all the information in a familiar manner. Key elements are:
Date – always date the press release, usually top right of the page.
Title – capital letters, bold text and underlined, centered on the page.
First word capitalized – just another journalistic tradition but if you stick to it you save the journalist work. So, you would start:
‘QUICK thinking by a school teacher….’
If the first word is ‘a’ then capitalize the second too:
‘A HUGE storm swept through….’
Quotes – when adding a quote into the release make sure you use the following format:
Start the quote with the details of the person being quote then put a colon (:), followed by a space, then double quotation marks. At the end of the quote put a full stop/period then close the double quotation marks. If putting details after the quote then put a comma then close the quotes.
Managing Director (48) David Jones said: “I think this is the best year we have ever had.”
If you’re putting a second quote in later then you might write it like this:
“Growth and profitability are both up,” he added. (Just make sure that it’s clear from the way you write it that the person quoting both quotes is the same person).
It goes without saying that the person being quoted needs to have actually said the words…!
Closing off the release – at the bottom of your press release after the final bit of text to be published write ‘ENDS’. This usually goes on the right hand side and denotes to the journalist that nothing below that is for publication. Your press release should all fit on one piece of paper but if it doesn’t then at the bottom of each page put ‘OVER/’ to indicate that there are other pages attached.
Contact details – at the bottom of the article make sure you have all your details so that if the journalist does have a question they can easily contact you. Equally, if there is somewhere where they can get additional information then make that clear.
‘For further information, contact Steve Macdonald, Press Officer, on 01-202-3456, email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Additional pictures and information on the company can be found at www.thecompany.com.’
If you have three or four relevant photographs which add to the release then by all means include them with the article but again, follow the rules:
Do not embed photographs into a Word or text document – keep the photos separate so that the journalist can pick and chose without having to manipulate the whole article.
Keep the numbers down – no journalist will thank you for sending 50 photos of an event. They will just clog up his inbox and he will have to search through each one to find the most suitable.
Caption photos – make sure each photo is clearly captioned with an explanation of what it is. This can be added to the file data or, if you don’t know how to do that, then add a few lines to the bottom of the release explaining each photo:
‘file cms1023.jpg – Managing Director David Jones presenting the top sales award to Denise Howell.’
Size – aim to keep the file size of each photo to less than 1Mb.
The final article
Using the information outlined above here’s an example of how the finished article might look:
March 17, 2012
RIVER CITY SALESMAN WINS TOP NATIONAL AWARD
A WEST Side Autos salesman has beaten off competition from across the country to receive the coveted salesman of the year award.
Simon Smith (35) from Longtown beat off nine other finalists to walk away with $5000 in cash and the free use of a car for a year. The award was presented at the national auto awards in Capital City yesterday.
Simon Smith said: “I knew I was in with a chance but it still came as a real shock when my name was called out.”
The competition is run each year and the winner is chosen according to a set number of criteria including total sales figures, customer satisfaction feedback and an annual report written by the salesman’s manager.
Managing director of West Side Autos, David Jones (48), who is Simon’s boss said: “Simon is a great salesman and a great guy to have on the team. He is a real professional who is truly dedicated to his job and the firm. He’s also a great mentor for the junior guys who work for him.”
West Side Autos has been in business for 35 years and is now the biggest auto dealer in River City after moving to their new premises in Parnell Road last July. They also plan to open another outlet in Charlestown next spring.
For further information, contact Steve Macdonald, Press Officer, on 01-202-3456, email: email@example.com. Additional pictures and information on the company can be found at www.thecompany.com.