The 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:
- 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.
- Set your margins at least an inch on both sides of the page and double-space.
- 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 .
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.”
- 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.
- 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.