A press release is a newsworthy story about your book or accomplishments that you submit to various media – newspapers, trade journals, topic specific magazines, websites, radio shows, television show. If they are interested in your story, they may interview you or run your press release or interview you in their media outlet. Therefore, your first priority is to please the editor.
When you write your press release, make sure you understand the needs of the editor. Don’t send your release to just anyone, or you could be accused of spamming. If you are sending your release by email, never send an attachment. Copy and paste your release into the body of the email. Never send a bulk email, but address emails individually.Don’t assume everyone wants an email. Though it might seem to be the easiest way to send your release, take the time to develop separate contact lists of reporters who prefer email, fax or snail mail. Include only one news release per envelope and don’t hassle contacts asking them if they received your release.
Regardless of the quality of your writing, if your work fails to meet the subscribers’ interests, the story will not be published. The general public is more receptive to a news story than advertisement. Having the media do a story about you is like receiving an endorsement of your work and is far cheaper than purchasing an advertisement. Your press release needs to be newsworthy to be effective for you. Let’s face it; most books and accomplishments will not be of significant importance to receive the attention from large publications on a national or international level. However, local and regional publications love a “local boy/girl does good” story which emphasizes the local angle of the person and accomplishments. Avoid hype and promotional language and back up your claims with facts and statistics. Editors will quickly trash media releases that make outlandish promotional promises — “the best ever,” “everyone wins,” “one-of-a-kind,” “changing humankind forever.”
A press release is a news story and trust and credibility is being built with the first word on the paper. Begin a press release with an attention-grabbing headline in ten words or less. Make it descriptive and benefits-oriented (why would it be of interest to people?) The opening paragraph must also contain the hook: the one thing that gets the audience interested in reading more. A hook is not a hard sell or a devious promotion — it’s just a factual statement.
Newsworthy information is best presented in the form of an inverted pyramid. The first part of a release should contain the key elements of ‘who, what, where, when, why and how.’ Their order is based on which elements are of greater importance to your particular news release. Go straight to the point in the beginning because hopefully you will have time to explain in subsequent paragraphs…but only if you piqued the interest of the reader in the first paragraph. This inverted pyramid technique is used so that if editors need to cut the story to fit space constraints, they can cut from the end without losing critical information.
In the closing paragraph, repeat the critical contact information, including your name, phone number and/or email address.
Press releases should generally be one or two pages in length, double-spaced and typed with 1.5 to 2 inch margins. Stationery that includes your logo and slogan can be used, but avoid bright or dark colored paper. Center the words ‘News Release’ before you begin writing. Under this header, type ‘Release after:’ and the date when you want your information be made public.
The end of a press release needs to be marked by a few simple characters ### placed at the end. At the top of the second page, type ‘page 2′ and follow with your logo and slogan so that the format is similar to the first page. (Leave out the ‘Release after’ and the date that you typed on the first page. Everything else should be the same as your first page.)
No one can predict the lasting impact of a well-written press release to the right market, but a poorly written one to the wrong market is doomed to failure, both in the long term and the short term. A few minutes of extra work could mean the difference between instant fame or hours of wasted time and frustrations. Which would you choose?