25 Tips to Writing Powerful Press Releases

LightBulb2Here is a quick list of 25 dos and don’ts of writing press releases. These can easily help you to increase your credibility with reporters and become a trusted resource for them.

These tips can work for any small business, corporation,  nonprofit or association. I worked in busy radio newsrooms in the most competitive media market in the United States—New Jersey/New York/Philly. I’ve seen the best and worst releases, and listened to the best and worst pitches.

Too many mistakes when reaching out to the media can quickly destroy your reputation.

Consider these tips when writing:

1. Do have something new to announce (NEWS).

2. Do ask yourself why you are writing your press release  —the No. 1 reason.

3. Do write a catchy subject line and headline. Get their attention and use keywords.

4. Do include quotes from people directly affected by the news. Put a face on the story.

5. Do show and tell a compelling story.

6. Do write short, punchy, and easy to understand sentences.

7. Do show value to the reader/audience; Speak directly to them.

8. Do help ease the public’s pain/problem. Position yourself as the expert with the solution.

9. Do re-read and re-write your release/pitch before sending it.

10. Do include a contact person who is available and knowledgeable.

11. Do use present tense and verbs.

12. Do include a date for release.

13. Do target your pitch; Avoid the shotgun blast.

14. Do cite sources/attribution.

15. Do include names and titles in photo captions.

16. Don’t repeat information.

17. Don’t use “JAR” —Jargon, Adjectives, and Rhetoric

18. Don’t use accreditation initials & acroynms after your name that the public won’t easily recognize.

19. Don’t use the word “announce.”

20. Don’t begin with a name.

21. Don’t send out low-resolution pictures or poor quality video.

22. Don’t ask questions. You are expert and are supposed to have the answers.

23. Don’t sell anything.

24. Don’t go more than one page.

25. Don’t say “first annual.” There’s no such thing!



9 comment on “25 Tips to Writing Powerful Press Releases
  1. Sue – great tips for the beginner. The other mistake I see folks making when writing their first press release is the use of the words I, my, we, us, and our. These are no nos in a press release, unless they are part of a quote. Press release are primarily third person. Ideally, A good reporter will take an appropriate release and will write a larger story about your topic. But both to look professional (it’s just the way releases are written) and to save the reporter time and effort rewriting (if they don’t delete it first)- you want to write the release as if the news reporter had written it.

    When writing a press release, step outside of your company shoes and into the shoes of the journalist who will receive the release – read it from their perspective and rewrite if needed.

    In other words instead of “We to XYX company invite you to stop by our new visitor center to get oriented to our area.” Try “This January, the XYZ company opened a new visitor center to help orient visitors to the area.”

    Or instead of “This book, Title, is about how you can create a new life for yourself in 12 dynamic steps.” Instead try, “The book, title, is targeted to helping individuals create a new life for themselves by using 12 interactive steps.” This second sentence also steps a bit further away from “hype” words – publications don’t like to make a claim about something that they can’t substantiate – the shift from “how you can create” to “is targeted to helping” and the shift from “dynamic” to “interactive” (if the book really IS interactive – with exercises etc.) helps keep it more journalistic in style.

    Also #10 is really important – one complaint I hear fro journalists is that people send a release, then either are not available or do not follow through in sending requested information. If you go through the trouble of writing a release, and researching journalists who should receive it, put a cell # on the release and be responsive. One client wanted her name/# on a release, but then said I’m going on vacation. When asked who would take her calls, she said no one. We put a different contact on the release and briefed them on what they needed to know to answer questions.

    Cathy Larkin

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *