With the advent of the digital age, public relations is no longer about feeding into a traditional news cycle; it’s about providing relevant content when, where, and how your prospects, influencers, and customers will consume it.
Public relations professionals often follow a standard format that they believe is efficient and increases their odds of getting the publicity they desire. The format is supposed to help journalists separate press releases from other PR communication methods, such as pitch letters or media advisories. Generally, a PR body consists of four to five paragraphs with a word limit ranging from 400 to 500. However, press releases can be anywhere from 300 to 800 words. Most press releases are succinct at just a page long — two pages, tops. Ultimately, companies want to provide enough information so that news outlets have sufficient material for publishing their own stories about whatever the company is announcing in the release.
However, even before one starts thinking about a press release, he should ask himself whether the public to receive this information will go to press or not. If it is internal employees, friends, or family who will be reading this information, then there is no need for a press release.
Typically, a press release will have the below-mentioned format:
To grab the attention of journalists and briefly summarize the news. Make your headline irresistible. Use action verbs, clear, understandable language, and keep your headline short and straightforward; this helps to focus people’s attention on your topline message.
Importantly, make it enjoyable; Keep in mind that reporters get dozens, if not hundreds, of press releases each day, so invest the time to write a compelling headline. Plenty of PR professionals recommend writing your headline at the end after the rest of the release is written
The release date and usually the originating city of the press release. If the date listed is after the date that the information was sent to the media, then the sender is requesting a news embargo, which journalists are under no obligation to honor unless there is a legally binding non-disclosure agreement.
Reporters, analysts, influencers, or followers to be inclined to share your announcement, you have to tell them upfront why they should care. The first paragraph in a press release, generally gives basic answers to the questions of who, what, when, where, why, and how about your launch, update, or development. Keep it short and to the point. If you are sending a hard copy, the text should be double-spaced.
Explanation, statistics, background, or other details relevant to the news. It should also contain understandable language and a tempting quotable. Ideally, quotes will be from key stakeholders in your company, including your executive team, project leads, or those directly impacted by your announcement. Quoting key figures and authorities underlines the importance of your development. The chosen quote should shape your narrative and emphasize the core of the statement.
A short “about” section, providing independent background on the issuing company, organization, or individual. It should summarize the ‘who’ and the ‘what.’
What your company does in clear, plain English, include a link to your company’s homepage early on, and make your boilerplate succinct and straightforward. If you cite data, include a reference link for the data source, and make sure every name in the release has an associated title and company as well. Your boilerplate should consist of: The name of your organization, mission statement, founding dates, company size, and A brief explanation of what your organization is doing today to fulfill the ideas in your mission statement.
North America, traditionally the symbol “-30-” appears after the boilerplate or body and before the media contact information, indicating to media that the release has ended. A more modern equivalent has been the “###” symbol. In other countries, other means of indicating the end of the release may be used, such as the text “ends”.
- Media contact information
Phone number, email address, mailing address, or other contact information for the PR or other media relations contact person
Odds are whoever you sent your press release to has a dozen just like it in his/her inbox just waiting to be ignored. If you want yours to be chosen, it’s got to be good. Not only does it have to be useful, but it has to be as close to “ready for press” as possible.
When an editor looks at your piece, he/she is thinking, from the first second, about how long it’s going to take them to get it to print. If your work is full of errors, lacking content, or needs to be revised, they’re not going to waste their time. So, make sure you have proper grammar, all the basics, and have something to write about.
Although a press release is a public relations tool, it should not read as overly promotional. If it sounds too much like a sales pitch, it will lose credibility in the eyes of the journalist. While it may be tempting to craft a press release that embellishes your company’s accomplishments or twists the facts to make a story sound more intriguing to the media, remember: Press releases live in the public domain, which means your customers and prospective customers can see them. So instead of thinking of a press release solely as a ticket to earning news coverage, you should also think of it as a valuable piece of marketing content.