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ServiceScape Incorporated
ServiceScape Incorporated

A Foolproof Way to Write a Press Release (with Samples)

Whether you are announcing a new product or novel, improving your brand or author image, or looking for search engine optimization, a press release is a great way to achieve these aims and more. What once was simply a way to communicate a message to journalists has become something with a far greater reach—a viral reach, in fact—and can be used to jumpstart your brand, business, or novel marketing. Using a simple inverted pyramid style of writing, the press release offers a way to advertise everything from an event to a new product to publication of a book, and there's a foolproof method to write it. If you're looking for that method, you've come to the right place.

What is the point of a press release?

If we're going to discuss method—we should first discuss purpose. Before the growth of Internet marketing, press releases were sent to journalists to obtain media coverage. In keeping with the rules of journalism, the style was focused on sharing the news quickly and effectively via headline strength and a powerful lede, otherwise known as an opening paragraph and hook.

Now, this purpose has evolved into a highly effective way to distribute information online—through company websites, email campaigns, social media, or press release publishing platforms—and achieve SEO (search engine optimization) goals for an organization, brand, or author. This results in a compact, power-packed punch of information dissemination that reaches audiences in the most succinct way possible.

In essence, a press release now has viral possibilities. What once was limited to a shot-in-the-dark attempt to catch a journalist's attention is now a medium offering great potential in landing a website in top spots for search engine results and building brand identity, whether for an author or a business.

A press release offers viral marketing possibilities for your brand, business, or book.
A press release offers viral marketing possibilities for your brand, business, or book. Photo by Dominika Roseclay from Pexels.

How do I make the most of a press release?

In consideration of the multiple aims that a press release can now achieve, it's time to rethink what should go into one in the planning and writing stages. Ideas like readability, keywords and effective headlines—although always a part of writing an effective press release—are even more pertinent now.

This means that if you have an hour to plan and write a press release, a large percentage of that time (20 minutes, at least) should go into determining a catchy headline and the right keywords to be included. While it's impossible to cover this topic in depth for the scope of this article, you can learn more about creating a compelling headline by reading this piece about writing headlines that increase online traffic potential.

You can also run several headline possibilities through this headline analyzer, although there are a few steps you'll have to go through (entering your name, email address, and company information) to get a readout. The readout you receive, however, is a great breakdown of important aspects of your headline, such as the emotional appeal, "power words," and generic word choice you've used. You'll also receive a score on the headline you've chosen and be offered instructions regarding how to tweak it to get a higher score.

What are the components of a press release?

Beyond a catchy headline with important keywords included, the other components of a press release are:

  • Contact information for media to get in touch with you
  • The city and state where this news is happening
  • Body copy, ordered by level of importance
  • Boiler Plate with information about your organization or brand. If you're unsure of how to write the boilerplate for your business or author brand, this website offers several great examples to guide you through the process of writing it. Basically, your boilerplate should include the following details:
    • The name of your organization
    • Your mission statement
    • Founding dates (if applicable)
    • Company size (if applicable)
    • A brief statement on what your organization is doing today to fulfill the ideas in your mission statement

The outline of a press release is simple. This graphic from CoSchedule is a great resource to use to make sure you are following the correct format and including all necessary elements when planning and writing your press release. As you can see from the graphic, the outline you should use is:

  • Headline
  • Statement of "For Immediate Release" and date of publication
  • Press contact information, including contact name, email and phone number (if applicable)
  • Summary bullet points
  • An introductory paragraph (otherwise known as the lede), including a hook and the "who, what, when, where, and why" of your content.
  • A second (and possibly third) paragraph offering additional information that supports your lede.
  • The boilerplate of your organization or brand.

So how do I write a great introductory paragraph/lede?

As you'll see from the graphic mentioned above, following the summary points of a press release, the introductory paragraph is the most important part of the content you'll provide. If you've ever heard of the inverted pyramid strategy of writing, a press release follows it precisely, with the most important information at the beginning of the copy.

Who, what, when, where, and why

This means that the basic details of your press release—who, what, when, where, and why—should be all included in the first paragraph. You should write this paragraph assuming that your reader will read it alone, and none of the paragraphs that will follow. In journalists' terms, this paragraph is called a "lede," and is meant to entice the reader to read further. In other words—out of the three or more paragraphs you write in your press release, this one should get the most attention.

In the lede, you should include the following aspects of your story:

  • Who is the story about?
  • What is happening?
  • Where is it taking place?
  • When will it take place?
  • Why is it important?

Follow these five W's with a hook, which is a sentence informing the reader why they should be interested in this event. All of these together will be the first paragraph of your press release.

What about the other paragraphs?

If you're following the inverted pyramid format mentioned earlier, the second and additional paragraphs of your press release are simply additional information to offer your reader about the five W's. This is the part where you'll want to include quotes from important people involved with the project, product, or campaign. If you are writing a press release for a book that you're publishing, you'll want to include your own quotes in these paragraphs, while writing the rest of the release in third-person point of view.

It's important to keep in mind that any quotes used in this part of the press release should be beneficial for the reader. In other words, any quotes that you use should offer more detail for anyone interested in learning more about the focus of the press release, including "insider" information about the product or service being offered. You should use these paragraphs to tell your reader what they can gain from what you're advertising, rather than just random details about the speaker's background or experience.

How do I write a press release for a book?

If you're writing a press release for a book, you'll want to follow most of the same guidelines mentioned above. If you're using the press release for SEO purposes or simply as a viral marketing technique on social media, following the steps I've mentioned above will get the job done. Just keep in mind that the 5 W's—who, what, when, where, and why—might take on additional meaning in this context. Specifically, if you're writing the press release to announce a book signing, you'll need to include the details related to that book signing in the introductory paragraph.

A press release should include the details related to an event, specifically who, what, when, where, and why.
A press release should include the details related to an event, specifically who, what, when, where, and why. Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.

However, in the case of a press release related to a novel, it's important to also include details about the book itself—thus, the second set of 5 W's. In the second paragraph, immediately following the introductory one stating the details of the actual signing event, you'll want to clue readers in on the summary of the book. This might include its genre, main characters, setting, and a brief one- to two-sentence summation of the plot of the book.

Other things you might want to include within a press release for a book signing or publication date include:

  • Interesting details about the author or the author's story
  • Any award or recognition that the book has won
  • Any endorsement that a celebrity or well-known person has given for the book
  • Any "buzzwords" that might attract a certain audience to your book, i.e., "millennials," "working mothers," or "spirituality."

This article goes into more detail about specific points to focus on when writing a press release for a book and/or book signing event.

Sample press releases

As promised, here are some sample press releases written across a variety of industries.

*Notice that on the author press release, the bulleted summary quotes are reviewer quotes, while the "who, what, when, where, and why" are all information about the book's plot. This is because the purpose of the press release is to announce the book itself, rather than a signing or event surrounding the book.

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