What goes into a proper press release? Whether you’re sitting down to write your first one or trying to figure out what nobody has picked up your last few releases, it’s important to get the basics down before continuing. You don’t want any of these releases to go to waste, and if they’re not properly formatted they’ll get barely a glance!
For this example, let’s say your company is a something fun – a video game publisher. The company is fairly big but hasn’t had a huge release…yet! Your latest game may just be your big break, so you naturally want to get the story out to any game magazine that will listen.
After designing a nifty looking header with your company logo on it and putting your contact information so the magazines can ask follow up questions, you get started on your release.
The headline for your press release should be centered and noticeably separated from all the other parts of the release. One line or two should do it. Also, make sure to bold it and use all caps.
As for the content of the headline, you want it to be as succinct yet informative as possible. Sound contradictory? Maybe it is, and that’s the issue. You “simply” have to choose the most important words to describe your entire press release in its entirety. If you don’t have a great headline, you risk getting totally looked over.
For our example, something like “Megagame Corp. Releases Groundbreaking Shooter” would work. Since you’re sending this to video game publications you don’t have to actually say “video game” in there since it’s implied.
Just below the headline you have a chance to further grab your audience with a sub-headline. It should still be centered but this time with italics and in mixed case.
Now, you don’t HAVE to use a sub-headline. Only use one if you feel you didn’t have enough info in the headline.
Perhaps your big video game release is the first of its kind, something truly unique. You don’t want your readers to miss this, so the sub-headline would be a great place to insert it. “First Shooting Game to Combine Vocal Commands and Dance Moves” could do the trick.
The first paragraph of your press release is also extremely crucial. Editors will often scan the first paragraph before deciding if the rest of the release is any good. This is your last “gate post” so to speak to cross, so if you have a great first paragraph you have a solid chance of getting published.
The rest of the written portion of the release is aligned left. First put the city (in all caps), month, date, and year, then a dash. Now you start writing.
I’m a big fan of keeping the first paragraph as simple as possible. Try to keep it to one or two sentences if you can help it. Also, the first paragraph should be straight facts – who, what, where, etc.
“FUNTOWN, NY, September 5, 2012 – Off the heels of their indie hit “Explosion Brothers,” Megagame Corp. announced the follow-up shooter/dance/singing hybrid “The Dancing Gun” yesterday. The X-Box exclusive will be the first of its kind and will be packaged with all copies of Halo 5.”
The rest of the body is devoted to fleshing out everything you mentioned in the first paragraph and any relevant quotes from authority figures. For instance, the CEO of your company and/or the project lead of Halo 5 would make for great quotes!
After you’ve perfected the rest of your press release, don’t forget to put “###” sans quotes centered at the very bottom so they know when to stop reading. Now you’re done, so start sending them out!
Need help with that? Check out eReleases for managing your press releases and getting them to the journalists most likely to get excited about your news.
This article is written by Mickie Kennedy, founder of eReleases Press Release Distribution, celebrating 14 years as a leader in affordable press release services. Download a free copy of the PR Checklist – a 24 point list of Press Release Dos and Don’ts.