A news release, otherwise known as a press release, is an excellent way to communicate your business news to the media. Good news releases are sometimes used by journalists and newspapers as they are, with minor edits made. So it’s important to think like a journalist when writing a release. A news release can convey a wide range of topics including events, personnel promotions, awards, new products, significant accomplishments, an excellent quarter, etc.
The best advice to give anyone trying to write a news release is: Stop thinking like a sales person and start thinking like a reporter. Here are a few tips on what should go into a news release:
The body copy
Write the body of the release as it should appear in a news story. Remember, the information must be newsworthy, or you won’t see a word of it in print.
- The lead, or first sentence, should grab the reader’s attention and concisely say what the story is about. This is the most important information in the story. What exactly are you trying to tell the reader? The following one to two sentences should expand on the lead. Here is an example of a good lead: “Aid is beginning to reach those in need since the devastating earthquake in Haiti occurred one month ago.”
- The body copy should be compact (avoid long sentences or paragraphs). The first few sentences and paragraphs should sum up the news release and the rest should elaborate on it. Most reporters will not read an entire news release, so make sure you have all of the pertinent information at the top.
- Use facts – events, goals, targets, people, etc. And be sure to communicate the five Ws: who, what, when, where and why.
- Provide information about your company, the source of the news. At the end of the body copy, use a paragraph to sum up what your company is and does. Begin this paragraph with a header (usually About COMPANY NAME).
The headline is particularly important, because it will immediately grab the journalist’s attention. Use active, present-tense verbs (like “expands”, “hosts”, “receives”, “increases”, etc.) to convey the most exciting news in as few words as possible. The headline should be in bold, but it is not necessary to have it all upper case. Do not use this line to sell.
- Example of good headline: “Local program lowers costs of hiring, training employees” or “Employers save money with new program” or “Executive director joins Company XYZ”
Provide contact information. This should be at the top and the bottom of the news release. The contact details must be limited and specific only to the current press release. The contact details must include:
- The Company’s Official Name
- Media Department’s official Name and Contact Person
- Office Address
- Telephone and fax Numbers with proper country/city codes and extension numbers
- Mobile Phone Number (optional)
- E-mail Addresses
- Web site Address
Include FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE with the date at the top of the release. Signal the end of the release with three # symbols centered directly underneath the last line of the release. This is a journalistic standard.
See below for an example of what a basic news release should look like.