We’ve all heard of press releases, but how many of us actually know what they are or when and how to use them to our advantage?

A press release is a newsworthy story about your business that you submit to various media – newspapers, radio, television, magazines, etc. If they are interested in your story, they may call to interview you or just run your press release in their particular medium.

Since most people may be more receptive to a news story than an ad, a press release may be the key to getting people to read about your company or services. It’s like having the media endorse you, your website, and your products. Most importantly, sending out a press release is far cheaper than purchasing an ad.

It is important to remember that a press release is not an advertisement about your business. It is a newsworthy story that the media might be interested in picking up.

A formal press release needs to follow a specific format and is sent to solicit interest in your business.

  1. 1.    Date Instructions

“For Immediate Release”
“For Release Before [date]”
“For Release After [date]”

Use one of the last two if your press release is of a time sensitive nature. For example, if you are holding a public speaking event, you will want to use the “For Release Before [date]” and make sure you input the final date for registrations. If you are using the “For Release Before [date]” ensure you are aware of media deadlines. Send your release well in advance.

2. Headline

Write an attention-grabbing headline. Make it benefits-oriented (why would it be of interest to people?) and descriptive. Avoid hype and promotional language – remember this is a news story.

3. Contact Information

Include as much information as possible here. Make it easy for the media to contact you. Include your phone number, address, company name, fax number, e-mail, and URL. Include the hours you are available at the listed phone number and add an after-hours phone number if applicable.

4. Summary

Before you get into the body of the release, write a sentence or two to summarize your press release. Make it interesting; you want the recipient to keep reading. Also, include the area to which this release is relevant.

5. Content

This is the meat of your press release. Again, write a benefits-oriented story. Think of the target audience as you are writing. Your target audience is partly the editor or reporter who will be reading the release. Ultimately, however, your target audience is that editor or reporter’s readers or audience. You need to write a story that will be of interest to them.

The first paragraph should answer all the important questions – who, what, where, when, why, and how. Make sure that you keep it succinct and to the point. Mark Twain said, “If I had more time I would have written less.” So edit and then edit again. Then when you’ve finished editing, edit again. The common optimum length for a press release is 400-800 words with 400-600 words being a good target length. In many cases a 500 word release is “just right” because it ensures you get to the point.

Once you get a reporter interested they may ask you for more information. Then you can give him or her more information. Most people hate doing research and this holds true for reporters as well.

6. Signify the End of Your Press Release

The end of your press release is shown by a few simple characters. Place ### at the end of your release.

Other General Formatting Tips

Here is a sample template that can be used to create your press release:


Attention-Grabbing Headline Goes Here

Contact: name
Address: address
Phone: phone number & availability
Alternate Phone Number: phone number
E-mail: yourname@yourdomain.com
URL: www.yourdomain.com

City, State – quick summary

First Paragraph – Grab the reader’s attention here. Answer the important questions like who, what, where, when, why, and how.

More information and facts.

Add a quotation to break up the release and make for easy reading. Quotations can be from you or a testimonial from a customer.

Direct the reader to the page on your website where he/she can find more information on your announcement.

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Once you’ve written your press release, who should you send it to? Well, you can either contact local media outlets yourself to find out who to send your release to or you can use an online company that specializes in sending out press releases.