4 Steps to Creating a Killer Press Release [EXAMPLE]
Writing a press release can seem a bit like rocket science if you’re not sure where to start. This blog will break down the simple steps it takes to create a top-notch press release. Following these steps and the formatting provided in the example below will help this process seem a bit less like rocket science, and with a little practice, it will be just like riding a bike.
STEP 1 – COMMUNICATIONS
Ironic that the first step to writing a press release requires communication. You need to write a press release – great, but why are you writing one? Your first step is to identify the purpose or the ‘why’ behind what you are tasked with writing.
Say, for example, you are hosting an event for a not-for-profit organization. The not-for-profit organization will host an event with: 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 incentivizing to media that your event is a must-cover. What is your ‘why?’ Be clear.
STEP 2 – STRATEGY
The purpose of a press release is to generate organic awareness, meaning you don’t have to pay for media exposure. The press may cover you simply because your event is newsworthy. With your ‘why’ identified, it is time to strategize how you plan to execute the press release.
Consider the following: Who do I want to target (print, radio, television)? Of those targets, who am I going to send it to (beat reporter, disc-jockey, anchor?) How am I going to send it them (standard e-mail, .pdf attached in e-mail)? 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 base-line 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 and you’re able to promote the event.
In addition to planning out the distribution, you want to identify key media members or ‘influencers,’ that you can have cover your ‘why.’ 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
City, State (Month, Day, Year) – 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
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 sentence ‘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 written 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. Cheers.