Press Release Guide
Why Issue a Press Release?
Sending a press release over the wire is the most effective way to get your news directly to the media. By using a national news service, your press releases are delivered to the central editing computers at daily newspapers, newsweeklies, national news services (like the AP, Dow Jones, Reuters), trade publications and broadcast newsrooms. They are also archived in web sites, databases and online services such as Yahoo!, MSN.com, and AOL. Sending your release over the wire is relatively inexpensive and will result in broad distribution of your news item.
A press release announcing publication of an “A” title can be an effective way of building visibility for the book, the author and your company. Other newsworthy events can also benefit from a news release, such as:
- Author appears on nationally broadcast show (e.g., Oprah, NBC Nightly News)
- Author awarded a prize or other public recognition
- Publisher negotiates a unique strategic alliance
- Book obtains a major review (e.g., New York Review of Books)
- Books obtains “bestseller” status on a major list (e.g., New York Times, USA Today)
Special Offer for Morgan James Authors
Expert Click is offering a $100 discount to all first-time users of its press release distribution service. Simply follow the Expert Click link below or phone customer service center at (202) 333-5000, mention that you are a Morgan James author, and receive $100 off the fee for your annual membership. Visit
www.ExpertClick.com/Discount/Morgan_James_Publishing for your discount.
All membership includes these Press-Room Page features:
- Profile at www.ExpertClick.com with four graphics, and up to 1,000 words,
- You’ll have instant 24/7 control to edit and publish your Press-Room Page.
- 52 news releases without per-release charges at NewsReleaseWire.com.
- Send releases instantly: you cut, paste and then confirm via your e-mail.
- Expert Click distributes your releases via e-mail feed, Google News and LexisNexis.
- Meta-tag indexing with up to 39 keywords for search engine optimization that helps journalists find more sources for their stories.
- Printed Journalists Directory and CD-ROM are instantly downloadable.
Writing a News Release
Press releases are a staple of any public relations effort. Writing them is simply another way of writing news stories. Your release must be written to get an editor’s attention and communicate as many facts as possible in an exciting and interesting way. Editors read press releases quickly, and if they don’t find what they are looking for within the first paragraph, they will discard it.
The more effectively and coherently a release is written, the better its chances of getting picked up by a journalist or an editor and turned into a full story. The steps below will help you become an expert at creating a professional-looking press release.
- Establish that it’s a Newsworthy Event. It is not unheard of for editors to receive 1,000 releases per day, so make certain the event you’re publicizing is truly something that will grab any reader’s attention. Ask yourself, “Is this something that I would want to read about?” If you don’t want to read about it, then neither will anyone else.
- Identify the Main Elements: Who, What, When, Where, Why, and How. Often referred to in the PR industry as “The 5 W’s and the H,” these six elements will be the cornerstone of your press release. From these elements, you can build your headline and the body of your release. Many editors will look for the answers to these questions in the headline and opening paragraph.
- Know Your Audience. Think about which editors and writers will be interested in your release. Avoid using too much technical jargon. You can increase your chances of getting picked up by focusing on media that covers your type of news. Focus on editors and writers that specialize in your industry.
- Grab the Reader with the Headline. The opening headline and paragraph should grab the reader’s attention by being both alluring and informative. The opening paragraph must contain the most vital information. If your release is serving as a publication announcement, the very first paragraph should include the book title, price, EAN, page count and pub date, along with a brief summary of what the book is about and why it’s unique.
- Organize Your Information. Make sure that all the information that you present is organized from most to least important.
- Be Accurate. Stick to the facts and avoid making flowery and subjective statements. Avoid statements of belief unless they can be substantiated. Superlatives should be avoided and used only if they can be proven. The superlative can be excellent fodder for the opening paragraph or even the headline.
- Stick to the Facts. Try and be as concise as possible. Less is more. Unfounded statements will only cast a shadow of doubt on the release itself and any information that you might present in the future.
- Include Quotes. Support your assertions with quotes from your author and executives from your company. Quotes can help make a release exciting while substantiating the information in the release. All quotes must be approved by the person saying them.
- Discuss Benefits, not Features. Show what the benefits of the book are. Imagine that someone from the general public is reading your release in the newspaper – how will your book help that person?
- Finish with a Corporate Summary. Include a short corporate summary of 3-6 lines. It should contain the full company name, address, phone and distribution information.
- Contact Information. A name, phone number, and preferably an email address of your PR contact (internal or external) should be provided. This must be a person who is extremely knowledgeable about the book and readily available to answer the phone.
- Don’t Forget:
- Proofread: Spell check the release and have several people look it over before you submit it.
- Check Your Tone: Be sure to double-check the release and think about the goals and objectives you are trying to achieve.
Press Release Optimization
When writing a press release so that it is searchable and “optimized” for the web, you will need to balance two conflicting elements: the principles of good publicity writing with the temptation to stuff a press release with key words and links. The “art” of press release (and web page) optimization is knowing how to balance the incorporation of keywords into a press release and satisfy the creative requirements for a compelling read. Some principles to consider when preparing to optimize a press release are:
- Place keywords in positions of prominence
- Use links to relevant websites, both company- and product-related
- Use keyword research tools to determine which key terms are most popular.
- Look for creative ways to gather links from higher-ranked websites, with keyword hyperlinks pointing to their appropriate landing pages
- Make press releases and regularly updated content on your website available via RSS (really simply syndication)
Where to Distribute a Press Release
Broad Distribution. The traditional press-release distribution services (PR Newswire and Business Wire) can provide broad distribution of your news release, but they tend to be costly. Less expensive but equally effective are the newer web-based distribution services (MarketWire.com and PRweb.com). Here is a list of options for distribution of press releases:
Be sure to distribute your press releases (or any news releases) to any niche-focused distribution lists you may have. These may include:
- Lists of subscribers to your website
- Association mailing lists
- Lists of attendees to trade shows
- Rented mailing lists
- Any other targeted mailing lists
For other questions about press release distribution, please contact Rick Frishman at email@example.com or 516-620-2528.
Don’t get discouraged if your release isn’t picked up immediately or if it takes several releases until you finally get the coverage you want. It may take a lot of time and persistence to make the news. Send press releases regularly. When one of your press release makes it into a major publication (including prominent websites), be sure to leverage this information. Ask for reprints for your press kit or to show your customers. Use quotations from the articles in your sales and marketing materials. And if the publication is significant enough (such as “O” magazine or the New York Times), issue another press release with the news!
Components of a Press Release
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
These words should appear in the upper left-hand margin with all letters capitalized.
Brief Contact Information
In the upper right-hand corner of the press release, include the PR contact information (name and phone number) for your press release.
This should be a sentence that gives the essence of what the press release is about. Articles, prepositions, conjunctions of three letter words or fewer should be lowercased.
This should be the city your press release is issued from and the date you are issuing your release.
A strong introductory paragraph should grab the reader’s attention and contain the information most relevant to your message – such as the five W’s (who, what, when, where, why). This paragraph should summarize the press release and include a hook to get your audience interested in reading more.
The main body of your press release is where your message should fully develop. Many companies choose to use a strategy called the inverted pyramid, which is written with the most important information and quotes first, with less important information later with lots of bullet points as to make the release fast and easy to read.
Your press release should end with a short paragraph that describes your company, products, service and a short company history. If you are filing a joint press release include a boilerplate for both companies.
Full Contact Information
Full contact information (Name, Title, Department, Phone, Email) should appear at the end of the press release – along with contacts for PR, sales, review copies, and company information.
>>Hope this helps!<<