How to write a press release

by | Aug 21, 2015 | News Release Distribution, PR Tools

June 29 – Wing Spanorama, the leading brand for strategic paragliding innovation and success; is today announcing that it is today releasing the most significant, most forward-thinking, most outstanding photos of paragliding on its website!

After years of strong and REALLY VERY outstanding growth, Wing Spanorama, expects these photos to undoubtedly result in unprecedented global, and worldwide impact, namely, by outperforming all competitors’ lousy attempts, at imitating these photos.

Wing Spanorama CEO Chet “The Golden Jet” Spinnaker said, “How anyone thinks they can match these photos of people paragliding is beyond me. How could anyone think they could match them?” He followed this up by saying, “That’s what I want to know.”

Thanks to the photos, which show a man gliding pretty effortlessly, industry excitement around the brand has reached ASTRONOMICAL levels.

A hundred-and-thirty-four million results. That’s what Google provides when you search “how to write a press release” (interesting perspective: “how to write a shopping list” returns 133 million).

Unfortunately, many of the examples contained in those results look a little too much like what you’ve just read above.

The basics to crafting a compelling press release are just that ━ basic. And any PR professional should know them inside and out. Less well-known, however, are the pitfalls that need to be avoided in order to to get your release noticed and its message covered.

Here, then, are some of those things that savvy public relations experts should never do with their releases:

  1. No clichés in the subject line: The title is the first thing a journalist, and potential mouthpiece/advocate/supporter, will see. Avoid clichés, which are indirect and fluffy, and instead make sure to craft a succinct and enticing title. To do anything less is to invite indifference, which is the last thing you want.
  2. Leave the wordiness at home: As with the title, in the release itself directness is paramount. This is basic stuff ━ a press release should be pleasant and simple, not a slog you have to fight through. No one wants to deal with your puffed-up verbiage, Faulkner.
  3. Don’t disrespect punctuation: It might seem like a no-brainer, but much like bad breath on a first date, errant commas and misused colons are typically dealbreakers. The more a journalist has to work to get through a press release, the less likely they are to follow through. Oh, and leave the CAPS LOCK off too.
  4. Stop assuming journalists have time to optimize: It’s the digital age, and your press release has to adapt. Make sure what you distribute is SEO friendly, includes links and (info)graphics and video, and is all-around appealing to the new generation of media consumers, ie. people with attention spans of three seconds. Just like everyone else, journalists have less and less time, so do them (and yourself) a favour.
  5. Don’t make it harder than it has to be: Pursuant to all the above, craft a tidy release that your target audience can devour without even thinking about it. Aim it and tailor it to the exact people you are trying to reach. A tip: if your target is Millennials and Generation Z, consider using emojis.

More than a century in the making

When Ivy Lee invented the press release in 1906, The New York Times reprinted his draft word for word. For about a hundred years following, getting a news outlet to simply reprint your release (other than community newspapers) was relatively uncommon, the reason being that any journalist worth their salt takes time to fact-check and actually do some actual reporting.

But with the advent of the 24-hour news cycle and the proliferation of the internet, outlets dedicated exclusively to disseminating unaltered press releases have cropped up and multiplied. Services like PRWeb and PR Newswire (the latter having been in business since 1954, when its reach was a cool dozen media outlets), now distribute your release directly to hundreds of thousands of major online news sites and search engines, meaning your big news automatically becomes online content.

Keep it relevant, keep it usable

But whether you’re going through journos or bypassing them and going straight to market, your release must contain highly relevant and easily digestible content. Remember: what people demand are valuable and relevant facts, not over-hyped, inconsequential ‘news’. Oh, and don’t include suggested tweets: “That makes us feel lazy and stupid,” says Mike Hager, reporter for The Globe and Mail.

Using your newfound knowledge, do you think the Wing Spanorama press release at the top would pass the test? Anything wrong with it? Here’s a clue.


Agility PR Solutions
Agility PR Solutions provides powerful, yet easy to use media database, monitoring, and analytics solutions for tomorrow’s communicators. Since 2003, clients have trusted our tools and services to help them identify and connect with influencers, capture coverage, and measure impact of everything they do. Whether we do it for you or help you do it yourself, our team of media experts make it easy to monitor and measure traditional, broadcast, social and online coverage.


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