Larger companies often employ communications consultants who ensure that a company receives the necessary attention in newspapers, magazines and on radio and TV. But smaller companies often don’t have that luxury. Writing a press release yourself is then the only thing left if there is something important to report. But how do you write a good press release? And what should be in a good press release that you write yourself?
What can be in a press release?
A press release is to report that a company has something to say. This could be a news event, but also product information. But also something negative. If the accountant has run off with the cash and the whole world already knows about it, this must also be communicated. Or if there are many layoffs. In principle, a press release can be used for all kinds of things. It is important to keep an eye on who the message is being sent to. A major national newspaper will only include a message if it actually contains news. Smaller local newspapers are often happy to receive a nice piece. And of course there are also many specialized magazines that deal with a specific subject.
The function of a press release
A press release can be sent for many reasons. They are listed below:
- Purely informative – data is provided that can be incorporated into an article or broadcast
- Strengthening the image – commercial institutions can strengthen their image with a message if a positive development occurs
- Keeping a grip on the media – by sending facts out into the world yourself, you can still manage to some extent, but don’t expect too much from it. If really bad things have happened within a company, municipality or other local government, the press will conduct its own investigation and publish accordingly.
- Public information – especially important for non-commercial institutions that want to communicate what they do and why they do it. These could be research results, changes in services or changes in policy
- Alerting function – by indicating that something is about to happen at that one company or institution, the media can also investigate themselves or call for a much more extensive interview
Is a press release always posted?
The answer to the question of whether a press release is always published is simply NO. Media decide for themselves whether they find something interesting enough to include it. Moreover, they are free to rewrite or edit the message. The person who submitted the press release has no say in this at all. They also sometimes contact the company to find out more. And this is best achieved by presenting facts that are remarkable. A press release about a new product is quite nice, but it only becomes interesting if, for example, this product saves lives. Whether it achieves something remarkable that another product does not. Or if it is so good that leading companies or institutions have started using it en masse. A press release can then lead to a completely new article written by a journalist. A press release that is well written and the facts contained in the message together should ensure that result. But in most cases it will be a small piece in a newspaper.
The 5 W’s
In any case, a press release must contain the 5 Ws as they are called in journalism. Moreover, they should be mentioned in the first few lines. They stand for:
Example of a text with the 5 W’s
Example: On March 10, 2010, Company be able to charge your mobile phone in all those areas where there is no electricity.
Make a press release smooth
In fact, this message contains everything a journalist or reader needs to know, but the trick is to then tell a whole story behind it. By indicating, for example, how:
- The project has been created
- Why the jury decided that Company X should be the winner
- Why the company considers this so important and has focused on it
- Whether there were many bumps to overcome
- Whether the company has invested a lot of money in it
Structure of a press release
A press release must therefore contain more than just the 5 Ws. The follow-up is just as important. But the structure must also be good. For example, the facts that are not so important should be mentioned last. A journalist can then cut that piece off, so to speak. (Also called scrolling writing). Furthermore, a press release should look like this:
- The sender at the top. With address.
- If necessary, indicate that the press release is provided under embargo. This means that it may not be published until a certain time. By the way, media do not have to adhere to the embargo, so caution is advised. It depends on the leniency of the writing or TV press whether they adhere to this.
- Date of shipment
- It must be stated in large letters above the message that it is a PRESS RELEASE
- Cup. This section should briefly and concisely state what is going on. But it must be such a headline that it invites you to read further. Only “Open Day at company S” is absolutely not stimulating. There must be a news event in that headline. By the way, a journalist can make that headline himself if he wants
- Subheadings. To keep the text clear, it is a good idea to insert a subheading here and there for longer texts. But not too much, because that is annoying. A journalist is only human and it is better not to treat him like a complete moron who cannot read anything else
- First paragraph also referred to as lead. It contains the most important 5 W’s. An editor can then immediately see whether it is an important detail or something that does not actually require attention.
- Remaining paragraphs. That’s the rest of the story.
- Indication of attachments. Nowadays, most press releases are sent by email. Reports, photos and other important items can therefore be sent. A picture is always important for the attention value. So if there is any photo material available, please send it along. It saves a newspaper the costs and effort of a photographer. Please only send high-resolution photos.
- Contact. Very important, because if a journalist or editor wants to know more, he must know who to contact. So please include names and telephone numbers of the contact persons at the bottom. They must be instructed and know what they are talking about. Don’t let a journalist have to call back ten times because there is no one to answer questions. Otherwise, make a note of the telephone number and have the person in question call you back.
Never do this in a press release!
Far too often, companies still rely on themselves. But a press release is not for addressing people personally, that’s what an advertisement is for. A press release with us and you in it is therefore absolutely out of the question. (Example: We at Company employees and customers can work and shop in a safe environment. The kick-off of these activities is also open to the public.) The word one is also not used. Because who is one? Instead, put people, persons, interested parties, customers or another word. In addition, the text should be written in the present tense or in the future tense as much as possible. This gives much more dynamics than when using the past tense. Don’t use words like fantastic or other superlatives. An editor has learned to delete words like that first, because they want to report as neutrally as possible.