Tips on How to Write an Effective Press Release

Press releases (PR) are an important and effective part of a great marketing campaign. For best chances of being published by major news outlets they should be well written with correct format and publication standards.

The first press release distributed for a Conestoga® Wagons client, resulted in over 200 articles being written internationally and a social media video with over two million views. The wagons offer an experience that can’t be duplicated and it is prime for events reminiscent of the pioneer travel. That is of interest to journalists.

Here are some tips from a journalist who reviews Press Releases daily.

  1. Be sure you are promoting something unique. It is called “the hook”. For example, our story about Wagons now located in 26 states was published by several major news outlets. Read it here as an example of format and content.
  2. The headline needs to quickly encapsulate the message of the PR. Journalists, who are now bombarded with PR, may quickly become interested with an enticing headline.
  3. If it is an event you are promoting, then the first sentence should include, “Who, What,
    Where, When and Why”, so the journalist has all the info quickly.
  4. It is rare that adjectives will be used in the publication, especially if the publication uses
    the standards of the Associated Press (AP). The story will be written from the point of view
    of the journalist so they won’t include statements like “We are excited to announce our
    beautiful… Journalists want to read facts, so be sure your statements are true and
  5. Don’t use clichés. Instead be creative and use words that are relevant to your message.
  6. Try to include a quote from a guest or client. You must include a name and also a title, if
  7. Include at least one high-resolution photograph with a description (called the cut line). Be sure that you have the rights to the photo and give a photo credit if applicable. Even if you took the photo, you do not have rights to publish it if it has people in it (and sometimes property), unless you have a release from all of the people and/or the property owner. Some publishers will also publish a link to a video, so it is good to also include one.
  8. Format the press release with your city in parenthesis. For public inquiries, include at a minimum, a website URL and phone number. You can also include a name and email address. For contact from the journalist include name, email address and phone number. If you don’t want that info published be sure to state that. Sometimes though press releases are copied and pasted and your personal info may be published.
  9. For distribution, either copy and paste into an email sent to your local newspapers, magazines, TV stations, organizations you belong to, Visitor Centers, Chambers of Commerce, Woodalls, and radio stations. It is also advisable to send any attached press releases as Word.docx and not PDF to facilitate easy copying/pasting by the receiving journalist. Or for a fee, use a press release publication service such as that distributes nationwide. The fee for the service is usually worth the wide publication and response.
  10. And lastly, be sure that all of your staff is aware of the news you are promoting so that they can give clear and complete information to anyone who calls.