July 23, 2014

How to write a press release

Launching a new product? Won a big order? Made a technological advance? A press release is a great way to get your message out to the world. Before we tackle the structure of a good press release, there are a couple of points to make:

  • The subject of the release has to be newsworthy. A product that delivers a new feature, or solves a problem is an example. Winning an order that results in significant company growth is another. Simply stating that you’re going to be at a trade show or reminding the world of your existence is not enough. Sorry.
  • It should read like a news story, not an advert. Please resist the temptation to begin the piece: “Acme Photonics Inc, the global leader in photonics widgets, the no. 1 choice for the industry for over 30 years, has today announced . . . “ You may promote your company at the end.
  • Write it with the reader in mind. There are too many dull, dry press releases out there. If you want to the reader to remember your product and your company, make it easy to read and informative.

Now we come to the press release itself. A good one follows the following format:

Title: Give the basic topic. ‘Company X to release Y’ or ‘Company X to open new facility in Y and create 300 jobs’.

The first paragraph: You need to get the nuts and bolts of your release in the first paragraph. This includes the who, what, when, why and where of your story. By getting the basics in at the beginning your release will still make sense if it’s cut short by an editor.

The second paragraph: Without resorting to blatant advertising you should objectively state the main benefit of your product / story. What problem does your product solve.

The quote: Including a pertinent quotation from a senior member of your organisation makes it feel more like a news story. Be diplomatic, but try to persuade your CEO not to say something like “This widget proves that Acme photonics are the best and greatest and have been for over 30 years” Get him to say something about the subject of the release. Be specific and objective. Good luck.

The call to action: Give the reader an opportunity to find out more by including a link to your website, an address or a phone number.

The bio box: Here is where you can add a couple of sentences about your company.

As with most forms of publishing, it’s never been easier to publish your press release; there are plenty of technology specific websites that make money from advertising, and value press releases to fill up the space.