Wednesday, February 18, 2009

News Flash: How To Write A Good Press Release

J. Chad Barnett, Contributing Writer

As a freelance writer, sports writers especially, being able to construct a good press release is a valuable asset. It's almost an art form in itself. Mainly because you have to capture the reader's attention, and then parlay enough information in as few words as possible, but make them want more. Let me explain a bit.

Press releases are short news stories. They are written in the third-person, and are used to demonstrate to an editor, journalist, etc. whether a story is newsworthy or not. Press-releases can be about various things including, people, sporting events, places, and so on.

I have compiled a few tips to help you create a good press-release.

The Title

1. Look at the title as your personal marquee sign. In as few words as possible, describe what your press-release is about. Make it compelling and attention-getting!
2. Address your audience in the title whenever you can.
3. Include the phrase "FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE" at the top of the page.
4. Always use present-tense.
5. The first word of the Headline and all proper-nouns should be capitalized.

The Body

1. For credibility, begin with the date and the city the press release is from. (i.e. Concord, NC February 18, 2009)
2. The first couple of sentences (2-3) should sum-up the press release, and everything following should elaborate.
3. It is important that the first paragraph contains the where, when, why, what, who, and how.
4. Press releases are double-spaced and should be at least a page, but no more than two pages.
5. If using company info, include a brief description of the company, it's business policy, and core function.

The Conclusion

1. Simply put, the conclusion should be a couple of sentences that tie the press-release together.
2. If possible, provide links to more information that supports the release.
3. ALWAYS include either "###", or "-30-" centered on the bottom of the last page.

Make sure that you proofread your press release a few times before submitting it. Editors don't like mistakes.

Everyone has their own style when writing press releases, however, the core format is the same. Following this simple outline will help you with the basics. Now you just have to put a little of your own uniqueness into it and see what happens.

"We are all apprentices in a craft where no one ever becomes a master."--Ernest Hemingway

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