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The Sales and Marketing Toolkit
Writing Effective Press Releases

Press releases are often a misused part of the marketing mix. While you may be tempted to issue releases at will, you should seriously consider whether the press release is really newsworthy or not. Cluttering the wire, or an editor's in–box, with fluff doesn't gain you anything. In fact, if you send an editor enough useless information, it will get tossed—right along with newsworthy stuff—because you've become a non-credible source.

Content Guidelines

Do yourself and your editorial contacts a favor. Write clear, concise copy that tells a compelling and/or newsworthy story. The following tips provide content guidelines for developing your copy:

  • It contains a news hook. The news hook, conveyed through the headline and opening sentence, clarifies the news value of the story. It is the important piece of information that people want to know about.

  • It has a factual, objective tone. Unlike an advertisement or a brochure, a press release must have a factual, objective tone and avoid "hype" or "fluff" as journalists call it. You must back up all claims with supporting data. Any statement that is not objectively verifiable must be attributed to someone via either a direct or indirect quote.

  • It uses the 'inverted pyramid' structure. Press releases should be structured to present the most important information first—a structure known as the inverted pyramid. When space is too limited to run your whole story, editors will cut from the end of your story, so the inverted pyramid structure ensures that the most important elements of your story will be included.

  • It is written in active voice, not passive. Your story will be more lively and interesting if you tell it in the active voice rather than the passive voice. (In the active voice, the doer of the action precedes the action: "Company X has developed a revolutionary solution...." In passive voice, the action precedes the doer: "A revolutionary solution has been developed by Company X...")

  • Concise presentation. A press release provides an overview of your story—what is new about your product or solution, who can benefit, and a few pertinent technical details. Usually 1 page is sufficient. Don't drown the reader in technical details. Save the in-depth information for another vehicle, such as a datasheet.

Format Guidelines

When formatting a press release, you should keep ease–of–use in mind. Remember, the key is to provide editors with all of the information they need to do their jobs quickly and easily.

  • Contact Information. At the top of your release, in single space format, you should include contact information for the key personnel responsible for handling editorial inquiries. This can be an internal employee or an account representative from an outside public relations firm you have hired to assist you.

  • Body Text. Formatting of the main section of your release is generally personal preference. However, for easy readability, we recommend single spaced paragraphs with an extra line between paragraphs. Headlines and body headers should be bold.

  • Boilerplate. The boilerplate is generally a one-paragraph description of your company, located at the end of the press release that provides editors with a glimpse of background information. It often includes stock symbols for public companies or web addresses for more information. The boilerplate should be preceded by a bold section header such as About [Your Company Name].

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