Note: The three #'s mark the end of the press release.
What should I put in my press release?
Stop right now and click here to read our in-depth
advice about packaging yourself as newsworthy. This is an
important step so don't skip it!
Let's stick with the theme
presented in that report: you run an vitamin web site
specializing in weight-loss products. Through the process
described in the report, you've nailed down a nice, newsworthy
topic teenagers and how they deal with issues of
weight. But that's a broad topic, not a story.
In the report, we provided a number
of ideas for potential stories. Let's pick the first one and
craft a press release.
The story: What do kids think
about a "thin is in" society?
As you sift through your message
boards looking for quotes, you see a trend appearing. There are
lots of messages criticizing Hollywood actresses and pop singers
for being too thin. Many girls are saying that seeing these women
make them feel bad about their own bodies. A number of the boys
are pointing out that they don't find ultra-thin women appealing.
Now you've got your angle -- your
hook that will grab a reporter's attention:
Teenagers think that a "thin
is in" society pretty much stinks.
Now let's get writing.
Press Release Headline
Before you write a word, remember
The reporter isn't interested in
helping you make money or driving visitors to your site. He's
looking for a story that will be interesting to his readers and
pleasing to his editor. He could care less about your great
selection, super customer service and commitment to quality. He
wants to know only the info that will help him craft a good story
about teens and their weight.
Take your ego out of it. Take your
natural inclination to sell, sell, sell out of it. Look at your
story with a cold, objective eye.
OK, let's get to our press release headline.
State your most exciting news,
finding or announcement in as few words as possible. Emulate the
headlines you see in the newspaper every day.
Bad Press Release Headline:
NEW WEBSITE THAT OFFERS HERBAL
WEIGHT LOSS PROGRAMS LETS TEENS SPEAK OUT ABOUT WEIGHT ISSUES
Good Press Release Headline:
TEENS: ULTRA-THIN MOVIE, POP
STARS SET BAD EXAMPLE
Don't worry, you'll get to plug
your website soon enough. In the meantime, you've just thrown a
meaty hook at the reporter.
The Press Release Subhead
Subheads are remarkably useful
tools, yet usually overlooked by press release writers.
Basically, the press release subhead gives you the opportunity to flesh out
your angle and further hook the reporter, without stepping on the
drama of the press release headline.
Here's a headline/subhead combo I
might use for this press release:
TEENS: ULTRA-THIN MOVIE, POP STARS
SET BAD EXAMPLE
Website Forumgoers Weigh In: Teens Don't Find
Ultra-Thin Celebs Attractive;
Girls Say Negative Self-Images Reinforced by Hollywood's Super-Skinny
The Press Release Lead
It's Journalism 101 -- the lead
paragraph includes the who, what, when, where and how of the story.
If the reporter were only to read the lead of a good press
release, he'd have everything he needed to get started.
There's no room for BS, hype or
sell. Just the facts.
Bad Press Release Lead
theplace4vitamins.com, an online store dedicated to selling the
best herbal products, teenagers had the chance to say what they
thought about weight loss and whether a society that pressures
young people to be thin is a good thing or a bad thing.
Good Press Release Lead
teenagers are angry at Hollywood for glamorizing ultra-thin
bodies, and many girls say they feel too self-conscious about
their bodies as a result of watching TV, movies and music videos.
The findings are gleaned from more than six months of ongoing
discussion and debate at the website theplace4vitamins.com.
According to theplace4vitamins.com President John Smith, anger
and resentment toward the Hollywood ultra-thin runs deep,
particularly among teenage girls.
The Rest of the Press Release
The balance of the press release serves
to back up whatever claims were made in the lead and headline. In
this case, you'd pull some quotes from the message boards (an
aside here: if you really were to pull quotes in this fashion,
you should only use the poster's name or identifying information
with his or her permission. Otherwise, simply say "a 14 year
old boy said..." or "a 16 year old Midwestern girl
added..." Also, if this technique appeals to you, be certain
that a disclaimer appears on your message boards notifying
posters that all posts become your property and copyright). Use
enough supporting material to make your case, and to demonstrate
that, whatever angle you're promoting, it wasn't something you
slapped together carelessly.
Next, a quote will help put in some
surprised by the level of anger expressed in these messages,"
Smith said. "Teenagers are far more clued into this issue
than most people would imagine."
Or, you might ask an expert for a
demonstrates once again the need to teach young girls and boys
about how to develop a positive self-image," said Jane Doe,
author of "I Like My Body Just As It Is". "theplace4vitamins.com
has done a true service by bringing these attitudes to the
Finally, spend a sentence or two
describing your company and what you do:
was founded in 1997 to provide consumers with a wide choice of
vitamins, supplements and herbal products. The site offers a
range of articles, research materials and message forums for the
health conscious consumer.
This paragraph is known as the
"boilerplate" -- an old newspaper term meaning a block
of standard text that's used over and over again (e.g. the
explanation of symbols on the stock price page). In this case,
it's text that you might use at the bottom of all your releases.
Place your boilerplate right above
the # # #'s.
One more trick: below the ###'s,
add a line that says something like:
If you'd like
more information about this topic, or to schedule an interview
with John Smith, please call Pat Brown at 555/555-2222 or e-mail
Pat at firstname.lastname@example.org
Some Key Things to Remember
- Stay away from hype-bloated phrases like "breakthrough",
"unique", "state-of-the-art", etc.
- Always write it from a journalist's perspective. Never
use "I" or "we" unless it's in a
- Read lots of good newspaper writing, such as the New York
Times or the Washington Post to get a feel for the style.
- Shorter is better. If you can say it in two pages, great.
If you can say it in one page, better.