What Is A Press Release, And How To Properly Format It For The Media?

press release format
Congratulations! You have started a new business or organization, and you are eager to get your name out in front of as many people as you possibly can.

This means advertising your services. Checking around, you fast learn that television and radio advertising is not cheap, and since you are freshly starting, money and capital resources are a premium. You will need to advertise, reach as many as possible and all on a very tight budget.

It sounds impossible, but with a press release, it is very simple to achieve your goals of finding and recruiting customers.

There are two ways to approach press releases. Let’s take a look at each.

The first way is with what is called a “Call to Action” press release. This is normally written to encourage potential customers to buy your good or service. Often these releases are tied to some sort of special like a sale, going out of business, grand opening and seasonal activity.

Call to action releases are rarely accepted in distribution services. Often a call to action release is very similar to classic advertising, and newswire services do not run advertising-like releases for customers. As stated above, there are other venues for advertising.

The second and more effective press release is a release that focuses on a news-worthy item or element. Instead of advertising, the release focuses on something or someone within the business or organization. The release extols how either is a stand out, has done something, is new and the like. This is the release type many newswire services wish to see and will publish.

So, now that you have an understanding of the basics of what a press release is, let’s look at how to write one. Writing a press release begins with proper formatting.

All press releases have the same basic parts. There are some rules to remember, however, when you are writing a press release. Here are the basics:
1. A standard press release is between 300 to 500 words. No more.
2. Use a standard font. Times New Roman is a good one and use 12 point.
3. Write in third person. This means no “I, we, you.”

Now, onto the basics!

LOGO
If you have a logo, put it at the top center of your release. There is a saying in print media: “Pictures sell.” Your press release is print media.

CONTACT INFORMATION
This is where you will have all of the information a customer will need to contact you or visit your website. At minimum, you need a contact name first and last, email, phone number and website. Do not use emails from disposable accounts such as Yahoo, Google or Hotmail. Ideally, your contact email will use your business name and something standard such as info, sales, contact or your name.

HEADER
Your header, or lede, is where you let the reader know what your release topic will be. This is very short, not a complete sentence and no more than about 10 – 12 words on average. Its sole purpose is to attract someone to publish and read your release.

BODY
This is the meat of your press release. This is where you will share your newsworthy information about your product or service. The body of your release should be about three to four paragraphs. Many times a body starts with a location name so the reader can make connections to the release. It is not necessary, but it cannot hurt to add it into your release body.

BOILER PLATE
Do you have a website for your business? Do you have an ABOUT page? If so, that is where you can get your boiler plate information. The boiler plate is just a brief bit about what your business or organization does. It should be fairly short and have just enough information to share with the customer.
At this point, your release is all but done. Some releases will have three number signs (#) at the bottom center of the release like this:

###

This is not 100 percent necessary, but it is a nice way to end the release.
If you still are not sure about writing press releases, here are two things you will need to do:
1. Read press releases;
2. Write press releases.
Practice makes perfect, and this goes for writing a solid press release as well. Thanks and good luck!

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