Write a Press Release: Format for Writing Effective Press Releases

As a consultant or small business owner, you know that getting clients is one of the most important aspects of your practice. Writing effective press releases can help you gain a lot of exposure and credibility without sacrificing limited resources.

Articles in newsletters, magazines, and newspapers and segments on television and radio are the most common ways people get information. These sources are always looking for newsworthy items. The idea here is to get your story in the media and let others publicize it, for free!

Submitting well written press releases on a regular basis is one of the best methods to increase your visibility. If you get a new contract, promote an employee, or come out with a new product, writing a press release and sending it to selected publications can lead to inexpensive, credible, and consistent exposure. First, let’s discuss what your press release format should be.

On your company letterhead, on the upper left corner type “PRESS RELEASE.” Below it, type the date you are mailing the release. On the upper right corner, type “For Immediate Release” (unless you would like the editors to hold the information until a certain date). Below this, type “Contact:” followed by your spokesperson’s name (usually you) and your day and evening phone numbers. Space down one inch and center your headline so the editor will know the topic of the release. Now it’s time for the guts of your announcement. Remember to type everything double spaced.

When writing effective press releases your opening paragraph should tell “who, what, where, and when.” Stick to the facts. For example, “A1 Associates, headquartered in Washington, was awarded a two-year $180,000 contract from NASA yesterday for providing software support services for the Earth Observing Satellite System.”

Next, include the pertinent information you want to convey about the topic: “This is A1’s largest non-defense contract to date. `Our marketing efforts outside the defense arena are beginning to pay off,’ said company president Bill Blake adding that several of the defense related technologies developed by the firm are transferable to other markets.”

In the last paragraph, add data on the company such as “A1 Associates is a small business specializing in information management on mainframe computers.” Conclude with contact information for the reader. A simple statement like “For further information, call Paula Peters at (123) 456-7890″ will do. Skip a few lines and center ” – E N D – ” to indicate that there is no more text. You should normally not exceed one page. If you do, use only one side per page and type ” – M O R E – ” at the bottom of each continuing page.

Sending a photograph along with your release increases its chances of publication. Be sure to write sufficient identification information on the back of the picture to prevent errors. Send your press release to newsletters, newspapers, computer magazines, trade journals, business publications, and anywhere you might have advertised your product or service. Target a specific section in these publications and address the envelope to that editor, putting the section’s title in quotes (e.g., “New Products” Editor). Do not include a cover letter with your press release.

Keep track of your submissions. If they are published, you can clip them out and use them as a marketing tool. Who knows, an editor might even want to do a feature story on your business.