Ten Hooks to Resuscitate the Press Release

Ten HooksThe press release is still alive, but it needs resuscitation. Here’s why: sometimes we forget how little time media have to read our press releases, which is the reason we know to produce only a one-page document, double-spaced. It’s easy to forget, though, especially when a client wants to see scores of facts packed in to a release. Then, it often evolves into a two to three pager, single spaced.

Here are 10 hooks, reminders, if you will, for besting other releases that hit an editor’s desk, and ensuring your news gets read:

  1. Plan the news hook before you ever start writing. You can help shape your hook by using trends that support your subject, and other topical news angles as tie-in’s.
  2. Set your margins at least an inch on both sides of the page and double-space.
  3. Put a date at the top under your contact material, NOT in the dateline. This may seem counter intuitative, but protocol-wise, it’s only the purview of the news media to feature the date in the dateline. One Associated Press Stylebook of the best resources for checking such rules is the .
  4. You only have 10 seconds to get the attention of a busy editor or blogger, so title the release as a veteran traditional media writer would; use a headline that grabs attention. Use caps and lowercase, not all caps, because most of us are distributing releases by email.
  5. Open your release with a sentence that makes the reader want to continue. If you’ve drafted your story and it’s ho-hum, look farther down the first paragraph; you may have buried the perfect lead.
  6. Humor, poignancy, pathos (not melodrama), expressions of generosity, and tie-ins to current events can be components of a first paragraph that takes the reader to where you want him or her to go.
  7. This may seem a no-brainer, but publicity writers sometimes forget to put the most important information in the first paragraph and supporting facts, thereafter.
  8. Media love an articulate writer. Instead of flamboyant words, adjectives and superlatives, try using evocative, descriptive language. After all, you’re “painting” a picture for the reader; it’s a form of “show” don’t “tell.”
  9. Don’t feature a protracted “boiler plate” at the end of your release. People who represent hotels, destination, and resorts, often add these and they simply take up precious news space. A few lines will do.
  10. Write an interesting release with the who, what, when, where and why on one page by using spare prose with hard-hitting action nouns and well-chosen words. Use “active voice” only and no passive sentences.
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