Writing a press release can seem a bit like rocket science if you’re not sure where to start. Need some help? Perfect. We will break down simple steps to create a top-notch press release below. We promise that if you follow these steps and the formatting provided in the example below that writing a release will feel just like riding a bike.
Step 1 – Communications
Don’t you find it ironic that the first step to writing a press release requires communication? So your boss comes to you and needs a press release ASAP. Great, but why are you really writing one? Your first step should always be to identify the purpose or the ‘why’ behind your task.
Say, for example, you are hosting an event for a nonprofit organization. This organization will be hosting an event that includes a cocktail hour, dinner, awards presentation, keynote speaker and an auction.
In drafting the press release, you want to address as much of the event details as possible while also incentivizing the media to cover the event. Stop. What is your ‘why?’ If you don’t know it, then take time to talk to your boss, because without a ‘why,’ you’ll lose your audience in a split second.
Step 2 – Strategy
The purpose of a press release is to generate earned media. With your ‘why’ now identified, it’s time to strategize how you will execute on the release.
Consider the following: Who outlets do I want to target? Who am I going to specifically send it to? How am I going to send it? What do I want them to cover (promoting the event, attending the event, etc.)? Knowing who and where you are sending the release will help determine how to set it up for writing and file formatting.
Once you have those baseline questions answered, you then need to consider the timeline on getting the press release sent out. The general rule-of-thumb is to send the press release out the morning of the event; however, you want to ensure that you have media coverage.
In addition to planning out the distribution, you want to identify key media members or influencers that are available to cover the story While they may overlap with the media you previously listed, you want to be certain that you at least have two or three people present to document and cover what you are writing about.
Step 3 – Writing
Here is a traditional template for writing a press release:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
INDIANAPOLIS – The first paragraph is where you tell us about your ‘why.’ Keep this simple and to the point. (Organization) will host an event to raise awareness and financial support for (‘why’) on (date and time) at (location).
The second paragraph is going to give the piece a voice. This is where you supply a quote for the media to understand the context behind your ‘why.’ “Our event will recognize (honorees) and we will hear from (keynote speaker), “said (contact first name, last name, title and organization). “The event will feature: a cocktail hour, dinner, awards presentation, keynote speaker, an auction, etc.”
The third paragraph is to validate the ‘why.’ Use basic language; while still engaging the reader. This paragraph is to educate the reader on the event and ‘why’ it matters and ‘why’ they should cover the story. Use bullet points when able to soften the piece. The (organization) will be auctioning off items to support (insert purpose of the auction, again this is where the ‘why,’ is restated). Items include; but are not limited to:
- a brand-new car
- a pair of tickets to the Super Bowl
- a five-night cruise
- a puppy
The fourth paragraph is when you enter the call-to-action. Tickets to the event may be online (hyperlink the link to online) for (insert cost) or at the door for (insert cost).
Lastly, you want to provide a three to five sentences ‘about the organization’. This should be three to five simple sentences, no more and no less and should have a link to the organization’s website. Founded in (date), the (organization) raises awareness and financial support to (organization’s mission statement)
Step 4 – Execution
Now that you have identified what you’re writing a press release for, drafted a strategy to support the press release and compiled the release – it’s time to send and execute the release. Because you strategized before you drafted the release, it’s as simple as hitting the ball off of the tee.
Need some media support? We have a PR team ready to tackle your needs. Contact us today and we’ll prepare you for your next batch of media coverage.