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How to structure a press release?
Thu Oct 2 13:02:00 2014
"Many a small thing has been made large by the right kind of advertising. – Mark Twain"
Although no official standards for press releases exist, there is an established format for public news. A company can announce, for instance, an upcoming event, management reshuffle, nominations and awards, new products launch, sales benchmarks, etc.
Provided a press release is well written, it might be published in media in its original format with minor corrections from the journalist's side. So, what stands for quality when it comes to press releases? It is not only about the significance of your news for the public but rather how you offer it.
Journalistic classic story model can be presented in the form of inverted pyramid where all ideas are in the order of descending importance.
Below is a short explanation for each basic component of a standard press release:
1. An effective headline
Headline is the first thing that catches reader's eye and therefore it has the power to give or kill a chance for your press release. The rule of thumb for a headline is to be shot and reflect the content. Ideally reading a headline person should get a clear idea what this press release is about.
Subheading makes it easier to grab readers' attention. It can be 1-2 sentences long and its primary purpose is to open up the meaning of the headline. This part is not vital and often omitted.
3. Lead paragraph
Lead or the first paragraph of a press release covers key news details. Begin with the mention of date and place of news edition. The first two or three sentences should report a news peg i.e. basis of your story that makes it newsworthy. If this part does not involve a reader, he most likely would not proceed any further.
In order to engage readers provide them with specific facts and figures relating to, for example, projects, plans, goals, people, or company's offer. Technically, the first paragraph should give an answer to 5 Ws: "Who?", "What?", "When?", "Where?" "Why?" and if it is important, then also "How?".
"Dubai, October 9, 2014 - Liana Technologies Oy, Finland's leading provider of SaaS based software for Marketing and Communications, decides to invest in Arabic market and opens an office in Dubai."
- Who are we talking about? - About Liana Technologies.
- What is the cause for this news? - The opening of a new office.
- When does it occur? - At the beginning of October.
- Where does it happen? - In Dubai.
- Why does it happen? - Because the Finnish company decides to invest in Arabic market.
This paragraph might be extended by answering the question “How?”, e.g. elaborating on steps that have already been taken.
4. Body text
The second (and possibly third and fourth) paragraph goes into more detail about the facts mentioned in the first paragraph. At this point you can provide additional information about people, products, dates, and other details relating to the news. This part might also include quotations of news influencers and key people of your organisation. Quotations create a sense of credibility and rise readers' interest, especially in cases, when a quote belongs to a third party that has nothing to do with your business (e.g. a known field expert or partner organisation).
5. Background information
Concluding a press release you can briefly specify the key information about your company i.e. the sphere of its expertise, its achievements and mission statement.
6. Contact Information
Provide contact details of one or more employees from your company who could help your reader in case of further questions. Usually it is contact information of press release author.
When offering a press release to journalists and editors, it is a good idea to support it with some additional information that might be in the form of images (e.g. company logo), links, related data (e.g. references to researches or other primarily sources), and even video files. If you use a specialised platform for news release distribution, there should be no technical obstacles with enclosing any sort of attachments.