A Guide to Writing Press Releases

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1 A Guide to Writing Press Releases

2 How to write and distribute a press release Welcome to Lantra s Press Release Guide. We hope that you find this guide helpful in enhancing your PR strategy. The guide will take you through the main steps of writing and distributing a press release. We ve also included some handy templates for you to fill in if you wish when you come to write your press releases. Contents Introduction Page 2 What to write about Page 3 Structure Page 4 Templates Page 5 Distribution Page 13 Monitoring Page 13 1

3 Introduction Press releases are important for companies of all sizes and form an important part of their marketing and PR strategy. They can help raise brand awareness and are an important means of generating publicity. A press release is a written announcement to the media about an organisation s activities, products, sales, events or anything else considered newsworthy. The aim is to attract favourable media attention. They are designed to be picked up and published by newspapers, magazines, websites and other media without incurring a charge to the sender. So what s involved in creating an effective press release? Whilst writing one may seem a little daunting at first, the process can be made easier by following some handy hints and tips. You ll find some templates at the end of this document that you may wish to follow when you start writing. 2

4 What to write about You could write a press release about a number of topics: news, events, product launches, new contracts you ve won, a new website, new premises or indeed anything you think is likely to generate media interest. Before you start some things to bear in mind: Be aware of your target audience. Who are you trying to promote your news to? What type of publications does your audience read? Have a quick look at the websites or publications you re pitching to in order to get an idea of the tone of writing Press releases are always written in the third person, for example: ABC Training is pleased to announce the launch of new training courses rather than We are pleased to announce the launch of new training courses Never write more than two pages. This is often seen as too lengthy as journalists prefer everything within one page Always check your press release several times for typos and grammatical mistakes as these can distract journalists attention from your story and make you look unprofessional. Don t just use spell check; print it out, read through it again and ask someone else to check it too Always remember to include your company s logo at the top of the release Include a Notes to Editor section at the end; this outlines general information about your organisation and what it does. This should be factual, succinct and not sales-based. 3

5 Structure Title: The title of the press release is really important. It should be short, succinct and snappy. The title should sell the story. It needs to be eye-catching and entice the reader to want to learn more. A play on words or pun can help attract attention, but most importantly, try not to let the title run onto two lines. Date: It s crucial that you include the date on your press release. If you re sending it to the media but don t want it published until a certain date you can put an embargo on it. This is a request to journalists not to publish the release before the date you specify. Embargos are sometimes used by businesses making major announcements. Write embargoed until date at the top of the release. Journalists are under no obligation to honour an embargo. Introduction: The introduction is one of the most important aspects of the release. It is a short summary of the press release and should make the reader keen to learn more and read on. You may wish to introduce your company, what they do and where they re based. The introduction should give basic answers to the questions of who, what, when, where and why. Use simple straightforward language and avoid jargon. Don t include any unnecessary information. You can always expand on details further into the release. Body of the release: This is the main part of the press release, which should consist of a few short paragraphs where you can go into more detail. This should substantiate what you ve said in the introduction, but don t pad it out with unimportant filler information. It s a good idea to include a supporting quote from you and/or a user of your product, or an industry expert. It makes what you re trying to convey much more credible. Remember not to use quotes which are too long. Statistics can be helpful too, but always quote the source. Call to action: At the end of the release it s vitally important to include a call to action. Where can the reader find out more? Is there a website, what are the contact details, who is the best person to speak to for more information? This could simply be For further information about (topic), please visit the or call Write ENDS straight after this to make it clear to the journalist where the press release finishes. Media contact information: Include the name, phone number, address, mailing address or other contact information for the PR contact below the call to action section. Notes to the editor: Finally, ensure you include a brief background paragraph or bullet points with some information about your organisation, such as what it does, what products/services it offers, where it is based, how long it has been established, and the URL of your website. Photographs: The inclusion of a relevant photograph can really bring your press release alive. A high resolution (300 dpi minimum) JPEG image is ideal. Send it as a separate attachment and try to include a caption describing the photo and any people featured in it. 4

6 Alternatively, you can write on your press release photographs available on request, in which case the journalist should get in touch with you if they require an image. Templates In this section you ll find some helpful templates which you may wish to use when constructing your press release. You can take what you want from these templates or create your own. Within this section is a general template structure, which outlines each section of the release and what to include. You ll also find specific templates which you may like to follow when writing about one of these topics: New product release template - for when you launch a new product New contract press release template for when you have won a new contract Events press release template for when you re exhibiting at an event Awards press release template for when you ve won an award or achieved business success (e.g. Investors in People accreditation). How to use the templates The templates provide you with some general written information about each of the topics above, respectively. Simply fill in the parts of the release written in bold to make it specific to your business and your news story. 5

7 General template structure This is a general template which outlines key parts of the press release and gives you an idea of how it is structured. Your company logo PRESS RELEASE TITLE DATE INTRODUCTION MAIN BODY OF RELEASE CALL TO ACTION ENDS MEDIA CONTACT INFORMATION NOTES TO THE EDITOR 6

8 New product launch press release template Your company logo PRESS RELEASE TITLE DATE INTRODUCTION: County/city/town-based your company name is pleased to announce the launch of its new name of product. Name of product is designed to what it does. Your company name has been manufacturing/producing type of product for months/years and is pleased to add name of product to their extensive/growing/comprehensive product range. MAIN BODY: Product name is aimed at target market. Product name lets you [benefits of the product] and is designed for ease of use even while taking full advantage of the latest technologies. [Think about why the consumer should buy your product and not the others available in the market]. Product manager, name, said: supporting quote, which could include details of why you are pleased to be delivering the training course/qualification and how learners can benefit. CALL TO ACTION: For more information about the product name please visit your website. If you d like to find out more about your company name please call your phone number, your address or visit your website. ENDS MEDIA CONTACT INFORMATION: For example: Issued by: Press Office Name of person who wrote the release and their job title, address and phone number NOTES TO THE EDITOR General information about your company. For example: Your company name is based in town/city and has been manufacturing/producing [product/services name] across town/city/county/region/country. It was established in year and offers a range of types of product/services/training courses/qualifications and topics covered. More information about your company, which you could copy and paste from the about section of your website. For more information visit your website, your address or call your phone number. 7

9 New contract press release template Your company logo PRESS RELEASE TITLE DATE INTRODUCTION: Your company name is delighted to have secured a new contract with local/national industry of the company you ve secured the contract with company name of company you ve secured the contract with. The contract is what the contract is about and will deliver several benefits to both organisations. The contract was secured on date and your company name is looking forward to working with contract company name to improve delivering of training and qualifications in the local area. MAIN BODY OF RELEASE: Your company name has developed a comprehensive portfolio of products/training courses/qualifications to meet the specific need of learners in the county/town/region area and is delighted to have won this high profile contract. The new contract expands your company name s role in the regions and will enable them to what the outcome should be (e.g. deliver training and qualifications to more learners). Contract company is a large/medium-sized/small business based in town/region/area who specialise in their industry sector and what they do. The partnership between your company name and contract company will deliver numerous business benefits to both parties. Now list the benefits that this new contract will deliver. You may now wish to include supporting quotes, such as from yourself or other staff member, or from someone from the company from with whom you have won the contract (they could say why they chose you and the relationship they hope to establish over the coming months or years etc.) CALL TO ACTION: For more information about your company name and the products/services/training courses/qualifications they provide, please visit your website, call your phone number or your address. If you d like to find out more about contract company, please visit their website at their website. ENDS MEDIA CONTACT INFORMATION: For example: Issued by: Press Office Name of person who wrote the release and their job title, address and phone number NOTES TO THE EDITOR 8

10 General information about your company. For example: Your company name is based in town/city and has been manufacturing/producing [product/services name] across town/city/county/region/country. It was established in year and offers a range of types of product/services/training courses/qualifications and topics covered. More information about your company, which you could copy and paste from the about section of your website. For more information visit your website, your address or call your phone number. 9

11 Events press release template Your company logo PRESS RELEASE TITLE DATE INTRODUCTION: Your company name, will be exhibiting at event name in location on date. The event, which takes place every year, is an important event in the industry sector calendar and sees more than number of delegates attending each year. Your company name will be showcasing their range of products/services/training courses/qualifications including brief list of what you will be exhibiting. MAIN BODY OF RELEASE: The event attracts delegates from all over the UK/region and offers an ideal networking opportunity for training providers/delegates in the industry sector. Visitors to your company name s stand, e.g. E10, Hall 1, at event name in location will be able to find out about the full range of your company name s full portfolio of products/services/training courses/qualifications. Your company name s staff will be available to discuss the full range of products/services/training courses/qualifications offered. Are there any particular areas that you d like to promote? You may wish to focus on this or a specific reason for visiting the event/promoting a new course. You may now wish to include supporting quotes, such as from yourself or other staff member, about attending the event and what it is you hope to achieve/what delegates can benefit from if they visit your stand. CALL TO ACTION: Your company name will be exhibiting on stand at event name in location. For more information about your company name please visit your website, call your phone number or your address. MEDIA CONTACT INFORMATION: For example: Issued by: Press Office. Name of person who wrote the release and their job title, address and phone number NOTES TO THE EDITOR General information about your company. For example: Your company name is based in town/city and has been manufacturing/producing [product/services name] across town/city/county/region/country. It was established in year and offers a range of types of product/services/training courses/qualifications and topics covered. More information about your company, which you could copy and paste from the about section of your website. For more information visit your website, your address or call your phone number. 10

12 Awards press release template Your company logo PRESS RELEASE TITLE DATE INTRODUCTION: Your company name is delighted to have been awarded name of award or achievement this month. Located in town/region/area, your company name has manufactured/produced/provided products/services/training courses/qualifications since year and has enjoyed phenomenal success across the UK/world. The award recognises business area that has been recognised, e.g. training/learning/health and safety/business success and offers organisations a prime opportunity to prove their ongoing commitment to area of the business you re focusing on (e.g. improving access to training/delivering courses and qualifications/raising health and safety standards/business improvement). MAIN BODY OF RELEASE: You may wish to expand on the area(s) of the business in which you have you been successful. Your company name was selected as the winner of the award because of reason why you have won, e.g. open and positive culture/staff involvement/ training and mentoring. The prestigious award, which provides well-earned recognition of your company name s hard work and commitment to shaping a successful business, was presented to your company name on date at location. The awards were sponsored by name of sponsor and what they do and their industry. Your company name has a comprehensive portfolio of products/services/training courses/qualifications aimed at target audience including examples. You may now wish to include supporting quotes, such as from yourself or other staff member, or from someone from the organisation who presented you with the award. CALL TO ACTION: For more information about your company name and the products/services/training courses/qualifications they provide, please visit your website, call your phone number or your address. ENDS MEDIA CONTACT INFORMATION: For example: Issued by: Press Office Name of person who wrote the release and their job title, address and phone number 11

13 NOTES TO THE EDITOR General information about your company. For example: Your company name is based in town/city and has been manufacturing/producing [product/services name] across town/city/county/region/country. It was established in year and offers a range of types of product/services/training courses/qualifications and topics covered. More information about your company, which you could copy and paste from the about section of your website. For more information visit your website, your address or call your phone number. 12

14 Distribution So now you ve written your press release, how do you send it out? Most journalists expect to receive press releases by as it s very convenient. Contact the publication(s) and ask for the address of the person to whom you need to send the press release. Alternatively contact details may be on the publication s website. Paste your copy into the body of the rather than attaching a Word file. This makes it easier to access and the journalist can see it immediately. Put the title of your press release in the subject line. Building relationships with journalists It s a good idea to follow up any press releases you send. You can phone the publication to ensure they ve received it. This will remind journalists who are often bombarded with press releases of your news and your brand. It s a good way of building a relationship with journalists and making your company familiar to them. Once you ve established a good connection and rapport with a journalist they are more likely to publish your press releases. Monitoring How do you monitor your press coverage? How do you know if your press release has been picked up by any journalists and published in a magazine, newspaper, newsletter or website? There are a few ways you can monitor press coverage 1. The most comprehensive is by using media monitoring software. Monitoring helps you provide greater customer service and detect more buyer interest. You ll be able to find out what people are saying about your brand across millions of social, broadcast, print and online sources. Software that can do this for you includes Cision (www.cision.com), Gorkana Group (www.gorkana.com), PR Newswire (www.prnewswire.com) and Meltwater (www.meltwater.com/uk). 2. You can pay a PR agency to monitor your media coverage (they ll use software similar to those mentioned above) and send you a detailed report of your coverage. They can also write press releases for you and carry our other PR activities to help increase your brand awareness. 3. Finally, you can monitor some online coverage by setting up Google Alerts. Google Alerts are updates of the latest relevant Google results (web, news, etc.), based on certain keywords. You can set up these alerts to get this web coverage delivered directly to your inbox here: Whilst it s not as comprehensive as the aforementioned methods, it will still pick up some web coverage. It s also completely free of charge! 13

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