How to Write a Press Release

Crafting a Press Release: Six Steps to Keep in Mind

By Andrew Woodcock, TVG Account Executive

The backbone to being a good PR pro is being a good writer. I’ve heard it countless times: if you don’t know how to write, you won’t be hired by a PR firm.

And it makes sense: writing is a huge part of communication in general. Hiring a bad writer in a PR agency would be like hiring a bad cook in a restaurant. That’s why many interviews at PR agencies are usually accompanied by a writing exercise. More often than not, before or after the actual interview you’ll be required to write up a mock press release.

Check out the following steps I learned early in my career to help your press release make it to the front page!

Remember: It’s news, not an ad

Before you get started writing, keep this in mind: no journalist is going to use your press release if it sounds too much like a product promotion or company ad. People are bombarded with advertisements regularly, so anything that comes across too much as a sales pitch is going to be ignored.

Start with your headline. If it sounds too much like a billboard or advertisement, it’s time to do some revisions. Keep this in mind as you write.

Get to the point quickly

It’s 2017, and people’s attention spans are getting shorter by the day. Your readers’ time and attention are precious, so it is important to get as much information into as little space as possible. Put all of your whos, whats, wheres, whens and whys in the first paragraph (or even the first sentence if you can). Write concisely and accurately, being mindful of unnecessary information and errors such as run-on sentences.

Leave the fluff for English class

I’ll admit that I struggled with this step myself when I wrote my first few press releases at my first internship. As a political science student, I was used to writing long-winded sentences filled with flowery language in order to increase the page count of my research papers. That kind of writing will get thrown in the trash in a newsroom.

Your readers are neither college professors nor William Shakespeare. Keep your press release free of fluff or jargon that the average reader would find difficult to understand. Simple and clean is the way to go.

Have your quotes come from a human, not a robot

Quotes are quite possibly the most important part of a press release; they bring emotion and a human element to the text. Unfortunately, quotes are also the easiest part of the press release to mess up, and for the exact same reason – they rarely sound like sentences a human would ever say.

Rather than using quotes to continue to provide information, create quotes that bring depth and insight to your press release.

Check your work

Your press release is written. Great!  But before you send it out, always have your work checked and double-checked by your peers so there are no typos, grammar errors or misinformation. Once everything is checked, you’re finally ready to send it out.

Get creative with the pitch

The final step is the most fun: pitching. While not directly a part of the press release, the pitch note in an email is just as important to get your release published, as all of the other steps. Think of it as an extra headline, grabbing the news desk’s attention and interest in reading what you’ve submitted.

When writing the subject line in your pitch email, for instance, you should find the happy balance between attention-grabbing and information-providing. Don’t be afraid to try something unorthodox, as long as it’s relevant and professional. I once worked a Star Wars quote into a pitch note – it tied back to my press release nicely, and it was definitely attention-grabbing.

Now that you’ve written and pitched a great release, may the press be with you!


Need help writing your next press release? The Vandiver Group can help! Call TVG at 314-991-4641 and check us out on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram.

Think Typos Don’t Matter? Think Again.

Think Typos Don’t Matter? Think Again.

By Laura Vandiver, TVG Vice President of Research and Strategic Insight

I overheard a conversation the other day while working out at the gym. A woman I had seen there before – let’s call her Cindy – was telling someone about how she works in PR. Cindy was annoyed that her client called her, upset, because her name was misspelled in an article in the local business journal. “I have to tell people all the time that this is PR, not ER.” Cindy mused. “It’s not my emergency! A typo is not that big of a deal.” Oh, but it is Cindy.

Accuracy is extremely important in our field. Not only do we have to manage our clients’ reputations in the media, we also have to make sure the facts are correct and that we’re telling their story in a meaningful and impactful way. A single error could mean a devastating blow to a corporate reputation, and gives fodder to the rumor mill. And yes, typos matter. Especially when it’s your client’s name! Typos in your media releases indicate sloppy work. You always need to proofread your work before you submit it. Yes, an occasional error can happen – we are only human after all. But I’m talking about the errors that occur from just not caring very much about the ramifications of these seemingly small mistakes. You have to care. Our clients depend on us to care. And they deserve to have the highest quality work at all times.

How can you avoid these kinds of errors? Here are a few simple tips:

  1. Have a team of people who proofread documents before they go out the door. The more sets of eyes you have on that important release for a client, the better.
  2. Always use the spellcheck and grammar tools in your word processing program as another layer of protection.
  3. Sometimes it helps to print your document and read it on paper to catch errors. Computer screens make our eyes tired and less able to find simple errors.
  4. Try reading your document out loud. This can help you find errors in verb tense, especially, and it will help you decide if you are conveying the message you mean to convey.

Accuracy matters. Our clients depend on us to get it right. And when they look good, we know we’ve done the best job we can possibly do for them. It’s kind of a big deal!


TVG’s PR Pros are happy to help you proof-read and edit your documents! Call us at 314-991-4641, email us or drop us a line on Facebook.

So, You Want to Start a Blog…

So, You Want to Start a Blog…

By Katie Miller, TVG Account Executive

So, you want to start a blog? If you answered “yes” to this question, chances are you follow several blogs that have made you think, “I want to do that!” Whether they’re about food, travel, fitness, fashion and beauty, or pets, a good blog and an eye-catching aesthetic will make almost any avid reader want to become a blogger themselves. Read more

Are You Creative? Of Course!

“Creativity is Intelligence Having Fun”

By Amy Crump, TVG CFO

Have you ever heard someone say they were not creative? They may go on to explain they can’t paint, draw, play an instrument, etc. However, creativity takes many forms, and everyone has the ability to be creative in their own way. Creativity also shows up in our daily lives in very interesting ways. Read more

Corporate Lingo: Don’t Let Buzzwords Dominate Your Vocabulary

Corporate Lingo

By Laura Vandiver, TVG VP of Research & Strategic Insight

As an anthropologist, I am often keenly aware not only of how people behave in various situations, but what they say. Different social groups often have very specific linguistic styles. For instance, take my triathlon club. Unless you are actively training for a triathlon, you probably have no idea what terms like FTP, power meter, pull buoy, bonk, brick, long course, taper or transition mean. Read more

Want to Make a Good Impression? Start with your Email!

Want to Make a Good Impression? Start with your Email!

By Amy Crump, TVG CFO

What’s that saying? You never get a second chance to make a good first impression? There are lots of first impression opportunities that may come to mind, like a first date or a job interview, for instance. Read more

Ain’t it Fun Living in the Real World?

So no one told you life was gonna be this way?

By Abbey Theban, TVG Assistant Account Executive

 

So – yo635842009994835560-1369895479_friends-anniversary-mainu’re getting ready to graduate from college! I extend my hand in congratulations and offer you some wise words as you begin this new phase of your life: “Welcome to the real world. It sucks. You’re gonna love it!” – Friends (1994).

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Typography Matters: Part 2

Typography Matters: Part 2

By Jesse Selz, TVG Graphic Designer

“From all these experiences the most important thing I have learned is that legibility and beauty stand close together and that type design, in its restraint, should be only felt but not perceived by the reader.”

– Adrian Frutiger

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