You send out press releases in the hope that they would be published by newspapers and other publications. So the first thing you have to do is to ensure that the release conforms to what newspapers typically publish.
Newspapers publish news. So your release must be some kind of news. A sales pitch is not news and will not be picked for publication by the press.
The next issue is the format of the press release. News is published in a certain journalistic style. If your release conforms to this style, it can be published as it is. Otherwise, it will need to be edited by a news editor, who might not bother doing it unless your release has high news value.
By formatting your press release in the standard journalistic style, you increase the likelihood that it will be picked up and published.
So what is this journalistic style?
Start with a Concise Overview
Tell the reader in the very first paragraph what the person will be reading about. Indicate concisely the what, who, where, when, how and why of your topic. The reader can then determine whether the news interests him or her, and whether to read further.
By finding a topical angle, you can increase the likelihood that the reader will indeed continue reading your news.
Stick to Facts
A journalist is primarily a reporter, responsible for the accuracy of the report. Your press release will carry conviction if it is factual, and appears to be factual. Cite sources and use quotes to convey the authenticity of the news.
Take care that readers will not feel that it is a subjective and biased attempt at reporting.
Facts are usually presented in a “pyramidal” fashion, with the most important fact being stated first and other facts presented in descending order of importance.
Explain the Context
If your news requires some background material to understand its significance, provide the context. Otherwise, your reader might be left wondering what the whole thing is about.
Provide the background in an incidental fashion. Tell the most important facts first, and then indicate the background.
Limit the Length
Readers are not likely to read long stories. They want to understand things quickly, and fully. Help them do this by using clear and compact writing suited to your audience. A good press release should tell the news in less than a page.
If you need to provide supplementary materials, provide these separately as annexure or separate documents.
Use Third Person Narrative
In newspaper reports, the term “we” will come across as a reference to the newspaper itself. Use third person narrative to tell your news clearly indicating who is being referred to.
Conclude with a Summary
Summarize the important facts in your concluding paragraph. Provide contact information including name of the person to contact, phone number and email address.
Press Release Distribution
You can submit your press release to newspapers, broadcast stations and press release distribution agencies. Modern on-line distribution agencies can get your release to thousands of news outlets in very little time.
Decide the group that you want to reach. If it is a local group, distributing your release to local newspapers will the appropriate option. If you want to reach an international audience, the on-line press release agencies will be ideal.