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ServiceScape Incorporated
ServiceScape Incorporated

Writing Effective Press Releases

Press releases are one of the top marketing strategies used by companies to draw new clientele and spread the word about their business and brand image. Especially of use in Internet marketing, press releases have the ability to draw in multiple leads with little effort and cost—the vital point being a sharply written release that is efficient and professional.

The usefulness of press releases in growing and sustaining a business—especially one in its infancy—is such that a new generation of technical writers has emerged, specializing solely in creating press releases for publication on the Web. Whether you're hiring a writer with expert knowledge or attempting to write one yourself, the formula for writing an effective press release is really quite simple:

  1. Follow standard heading formats
  2. Hook your reader in the opening sentence
  3. Provide the who-what-when-where-how information in the opening paragraph
  4. Write in an inverted pyramid format, with the most important information at the beginning and the least important at the end.

Starting with the standard heading, a press release generally begins with the words "media release" as a header, followed by the contact information for the person or company releasing it (this would be the contact information for the company rather than the writer). Following this would be the date of release, and a title for the press release that serves as a hook for the reader.

This title is similar to the typical headline you would see when reading the newspaper. Written with the express purpose of grabbing the reader's attention and persuading them to read the article, a headline generally is a clipped but complete sentence. An example might be: "Dog Chases Frightened Burglar Down the Street." Similarly, a company specializing in educational software sales might begin a press release with "Failing Students Find Easy A's With New Software."

Immediately following the title, the location of the business is often written in a bold font and within parentheses. An example is below.

Media Release

Joan Resmond
555 Second Avenue
New York, NY 11001
Phone: (555) 800-1234

Failing Students Find Easy A's With New Software

(EduCate Software, New York, NY) – For students wringing their hands about upcoming finals, help has finally arrived. EduCate Software, a division of Greater Software Corporation, has the key to help students unlock their potential in the classroom: online gaming that teaches the essentials of their core subjects. Playable 24/7, this online portal allows students to match up with friends as partners or opponents, playing strategic games that incorporate basic skills and knowledge that will be tested on this year's standardized tests. All that is required is Internet access and a willingness to have fun while learning.

The press release above provides an example of the opening hook that is necessary to draw the reader's attention, followed by a paragraph clearly stating the facts about what the company has to offer. When a writer covers the four W's (who, what, when, and where) and the H (how), he or she can be assured that the essential details will be there.

The purpose of the inverted pyramid strategy for writing the body of the press release is to allow editors to shorten the press release, depending on their individual space and word count limits. With the most important information at the top, there won't be concerns over cutting out essential components of your press release if this happens.

Finally, after ensuring that your press release has all of the right components included, there are a few methods of giving it that extra punch. Quotes are always an excellent way of turning otherwise lackluster prose into more persuasive writing; noting the philosophical statements of the CEO, founder, or relevant spokesperson of the company can help readers feel a more personal connection with the business.

Quotes also provide a level of legitimacy to the business, especially if they are quotes from other respected businesses or enterprises. A certain level of namedropping can be highly effective in a press release, and care should be taken to include the best references available. Remember, a press release is your company's resume that will be released to a lot of potential clients—putting your best foot forward is important.

The avenues for distributing press releases online are abundant. Some sites specialize in sending press releases to news organizations, search engines, and newswires. These sites can be a bit pricey, averaging from $300 to $600 for an annual membership and customer service, but the marketing success that follows makes it well worth the cost for many businesses.

Sites such as and offer businesses the opportunity to submit press releases for free; however, these sites charge for their "premium" services. The free release option generally limits the number of words the press release can have, as well as the search engine optimization included with the service. The free sites also tend to not offer users the option to edit or delete their submitted press releases without premium membership dues. Essentially, if a business wishes to maximize the marketing strategy associated with the press release, the free option might not be the best way to go.

Writing effective press releases is a time-consuming process, but well worth the effort and money spent for almost unlimited potential in promoting a business. As with any marketing strategy, professionalism and quality go a long way.

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