In my last post, we looked at tips for writing press release headlines. Now we’re going to look at the “meat” of your press releases — the press release body.
This is where you go beyond grabbing a journalist’s attention and give them all of the important information they would need if they decide to write a story about you or your company.
Here are some things to keep in mind when writing the body of your press releases.
1. Use the inverted pyramid in writing the press release body.
Write a press release the way a journalist would write a news story — using inverted pyramid style.
What does this mean exactly?
It’s simple. You start with the most important information up front, and then add supporting details after. Think of it in three tiers:
- Must-have information to understand your news story
- Details that are important even if not absolutely necessary
- Information that’s nice to have, but definitely not necessary
The most important element of using the inverted pyramid style to write press releases is to try to answer as many of the “5 Ws” — who, what, when, where, and why — as possible right in your “lede” (your first body paragraph or introduction).
2. Don’t make your press release body longer than necessary.
With that inverted pyramid style in mind, as you get to less important details, ask yourself:
Would a journalist really want this, or is it only interesting to me?
If a journalist wouldn’t care, cut it. (And be realistic. Just because you think something about your company or product is amazing, it doesn’t mean anyone else is going to be excited about it.)
Journalists (and bloggers for that matter) are busy. They receive more pitches than you would probably ever imagine.
If you want to hold their attention, get to your point quickly. And don’t bore them with information they neither want nor need (like industry jargon, extensive company bios, or self-gratuitous hype that offers no news value).
In most cases, your press release shouldn’t exceed one page.
3. Make it clear when your release goes to a second page.
If you do have a good reason for taking a press release to a second page, make that clear on the first page by using the following at the bottom:
– More –
Don’t ever leave journalists wondering if they’re missing something.
4. Don’t leave out key information to prompt media contacts.
This is something I’ve seen both as a writer who receives a lot of press releases and as a PR consultant.
Every once in a while I’ll get a release where vital information is left out (or I’ll have a client suggest it). And it’s done so intentionally, sometimes even with a “cute” little call-to-action prompting me to contact the company for the very information that should have already been provided in the press release.
Don’t do this.
It’s a dumb idea.
You’ll piss off the very journalists you want to ingratiate yourself with.
Do you know what I do when a company pitches me a story, leaves out key information, and then tries to prompt me to call them or email them for the information they already knew I would need?
I never contact them.
I don’t cover that story.
And, in many cases, I blacklist them and block any future releases of theirs from reaching me.
That is not your goal with a press release. Your job is to present an interesting and newsworthy story to journalists and bloggers who reach a relevant audience. And your job is to make their job as easy as possible.
These tips might seem simple.
That’s pretty much the point with press releases: Keep it simple. Keep it clear. Keep it newsworthy.
If the body of your press release does that, you’ll have a much better chance of landing the kind of media coverage you want.
Next week we’ll look at press release writing tips for your release’s end matter (the things that come after the main body of your news release). For the time being, if you have news you want to release and you’d like a pro’s hand in writing your press release, contact me and let’s talk about your project.