How to write a press release: a guide for small businesses
Despite the social media revolution, a recent survey by PR support business Cision showed that over 70% of journalists said they want to receive press releases from businesses.
The not-so-humble news release remains a vital part of any small business’s PR efforts, so getting them right is important.
Here’s what you need to do to give your news release the best possible chance of making into print, or onto screen.
Know your audience
As in every communication, the key to success is thinking about what your audience – in this case, journalists – want from you.
Find out who covers businesses about your sector, or your region and look at what they write about. Bear that in mind when you draft your release.
Share news, not adverts
What’s the ‘hook’ of your story – why should a journalist be interested? They don’t care that your new widget is now for sale at £5.99 – but they might if it is the first ever recyclable one, was designed by an employee who just celebrated her 90th birthday, or is the first off the production line in your new factory.
Cover the basics
Use the six Ws (and yes, we know ‘how’ is a bit of a cheat on ‘w’ front!)
What is going on?
Why is it happening?
When did it happen?
Where is it taking place?
Who is involved?
How did it come about?
Make it easy
Journalists may receive hundreds of press releases every day, so make things as easy as possible for them
- Use a short title that captures the key points of your story
- Use a Word document or keep the text in the body of your email, never a pdf (journalists need to be able to cut and paste easily)
- Provide a phone number and email address for enquiries
Give it structure
Summarise your entire story in here – don’t tease, don’t trail. The journalist has only a few seconds to decide if your story is worth reading. If the first paragraph doesn’t tell them what they need to know, they won’t read on.
Next, expand on your story, using the opportunity to get your messages across – you champion diversity, or you’re committed to sustainability, or you focus on value for money.
Then add a quote – from a senior member of staff, or the star of the story.
Remember, if journalists have a word count to hit they’ll generally crop the story from the bottom up – so keep all the ‘must haves’ towards the beginning.
Use Notes to Editors
If you feel there is important additional information to share that’s not part of the main story – the history of your company, for example – add it at the very end, under a ‘Notes to Editors’ section.
Add a photograph
News releases with a good photo are far more likely to be picked up by reporters.
Ideally your photo should tell the story – your 90-year-old widget-designer with your new product, for example. Remember to add a note to the news release saying what the photo shows and who is in it.
If you can’t provide a photo tailored to the story, send an image of your premises, or the business owner.
The photo should ideally have a resolution of at least 300dpi (dots per inch) – you can check that by looking at the details of your photo file.
Check it, send it and be ready for enquiries
Email your release to your chosen journalists or outlets, and be ready to respond quickly to any enquiries – they will have deadlines to meet.
If you’d like a bit of help with writing your news releases, check out our Press Release Template or, if you’d prefer to get it off your ‘to do’ list and onto someone else’s, simply give us a call. Our Communications Director Jennifer is an expert on writing releases that will get you in the papers for all the right reasons.’