The Do's and Don'ts of writing a Press Release

In a previous blog, we broke some myths of PR, and explained how public relations is more than just writing press releases.

Press releases are still a big part of PR and incredibly useful in communicating messages to target audiences. Media releases are not as simple as one might think and there’s lots to consider. In this blog, we will discuss the do’s and don’ts of writing a press release.


Make sure it’s newsworthy

Writing the press release is just half the battle… you need to draw upon your journalist contacts to successfully secure coverage in the media! A crucial aspect of a press release is for it to be newsworthy. Ask yourself; is it new? unusual? unexpected? Will anyone outside of your organisation be fussed?

A good tip to make a press release newsworthy is to assume limited interest from a reader. Be determined and set yourself a challenge so you can strive to give it a really strong angle and be more appealing to readers.

Target appropriate publications

Tailor your content for different publications. The style and tone will differ between different publications, as well as what appeals to that particular audience. For example, when writing a release for a regional newspaper, a focus on a regional link will be more appealing to them than a national newspaper. Trade press news stories should include more industry specific content, in-depth relevant topical news. 

Make life easier for the journalist

Include a descriptive headline in the subject header so your editorial is clear to the recipient. Journalists receive hundreds of releases each day - so make sure yours is clear and concise.

Paste your release underneath main message in the body of your email. In addition to this, you should attach the document to make it easier for a journalist to access your release. Attach good quality press images but don’t send big files as these may not get through.

Make sure the first sentence summarises the story

The first line of a release should grab the attention of the reader. Try to include the 5 W’s (Who? What? When? Where? Why?)

By making sure the key information of the story is right at the beginning of the press release, you increase the likelihood of people reading your news.

Be concise

You want the release to be engaging, and easy to read. Don’t be tempted to add too much background information, this can be added in your end notes to the editor. Use of subheadings and bullet points can make information easier to digest - especially stats and figures.

Ideally you want it to fit on one or two pages, as people may be put off reading a lengthy piece of writing!

Share your story

Make best use of all content by uploading news items to your website or blog and sharing on social media. By adapting content to suit each platform, you’ll expand your reach and more people will see your story.


Don’t use quotes to provide information

Each quote should provide insight or an opinion from somebody’s perspective, not filled with complicated and often boring facts statistics and other jargon. Make sure a quote is attributed to your relevant, key spokesperson - often the chief executive or managing director.

Don’t assume national coverage is always better

If the purpose of your press release is to get the get the attention of people in your area, or in your industry, concentrate on informing and educating via local and trade press. Regional news outlets are well consumed by readers.

Don’t give up!

Follow up each story with your media contacts and learn from each release. If your news didn’t achieve coverage or didn’t quite hit the mark - ask journalists why and learn from their feedback.

Trends can change and move with the times - if recruitment and growth stories often appear in your local media it’s likely to be popular with the readers of that particular platform. Try to provide content which fits in with the news agenda of the time.

If you’re planning a PR campaign and would like some support from our award-winning communications team, get in touch or find out more about us by downloading our PR & Communications brochure. 

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Tags: Communications, PR

Posted by Anna Graham
on June 14, 2017