How to write a press release

24 August, 2015

Before you sit down and write a press release (or ask someone to write to for you) ask yourself who you’re trying to reach and if there isn’t a quicker and more effective way of getting your story out. A press release is fine but you need a database of journalists to send it to, which most small practices don’t have. However, and as I discuss below, there’s always Twitter and if the story is interesting enough, you will get a response.

Here are my top tips.

  • Put the most newsworthy information at the top and the least important at the bottom – this is called the inverted pyramid model and is how journalists are trained to write
  • Call a spade a spade and untangle professional jargon before it reaches a journalist’s inbox. If you have to use acronyms, spell them out in full the first time – even RIBA.
  • You should include a quote from yourself (if it’s about you or your practice) without repeating information contained elsewhere. Avoid being “thrilled” “honoured” or “ achieving a major milestone” when you’ve simply been given an outline planning permission.
  • If in doubt, read back aloud what you’ve written. If you can’t imagine a real person saying this, it then don’t send it.
  • Boost your story with relevant data and great photos ideally taken by a professional photographer not the intern. Include one photo with the release and say “more available” rather than clogging up journalists’ inboxes with big files.
  • Don’t send one line emails with See Attachment. It won’t be opened. Always paste the press release directly into an email so it can be easily read on a phone.
  • If you need to announce something in a hurry, the quickest and most effective platform is Twitter because it reaches every major news outlet and political party in the country.
  • If you are aiming for print titles, time it so your email doesn’t land in their inbox on press day. Monday or Friday morning are good days. Do not call to say “Have you received my press release?” If the story is interesting, it’ll be used but no amount of badgering will push a limp story to the top of a pile.
  • Have a bullshit detector handy. Avoid words like paradigm, icon and watch quotes that could end up in Pseuds Corner.
  • If you have written 1,300 words you’ve written a thousand words too many.