The top ten tips for writing the perfect press release
25th September 2014
We asked senior PROs for their advice about creating perfect press releases and came up with a top-ten list. Key publications give their feedback too.
From Andrew Marcus, deputy head of communications at the Museum of London:
1. Don’t state the obvious. There is one cardinal sin of press release writing and that is the use of ‘I am thrilled/delighted ...’ in the quote. Of course your spokesperson is thrilled by your announcement, that's their job. Instead use the quote for a key message which is best to delivered with a human touch.
2. Get the main message across in ten words or less. Thus the key to a good press release is making sure that the first sentence communicates the most important information in a way that makes sense to the reader, in this case, probably a journalist. Use the body to support this headline with facts and figures, and a quote from a spokesperson to explain the relevance of your announcement.
From Lisa Morton, managing director at agency Roland Dransfield PR:
3. Don’t be subjective. It’s not for you to say something is innovative or not, let the facts speak for themselves.
4. Don’t over punctuate. The sentence should be interesting enough in its own right without punctuation marks.
5. Write in the third person. Apart from the quotes of course.
6. Check for accuracy. Put your best foot forward with press releases and don’t let any errors creep in.
7. Be precise. If you are quoting an amount, say how much exactly.
Sally Maier, director at agency Comms8, says there are three “Hs” to writing press releases:
8. Honesty. Tell the truth and never fake any facts or numbers. Journalists are humans and they don’t expect you to be flawless.
9. Highlight. Summarise up to three key messages and support them with relevant data. Journalists won’t include every single point anyway, so be specific and precise.
10. Headline. Include a punchy headline that intrigues journalists to find out more about the release. If your headline is boring, journalists will get turned off immediately.
Maier also asked publications what they thought made the perfect press release. Here’s what they said:
The Economist: “Grabbing headline, data and honesty. I usually dislike press releases with quotes from stakeholders. If the journalist is interested, he or she will contact them."
China Daily Europe: “It needs all the facts, figures, background information, and the significance of the news.”
South China Morning Post, Hong Kong: “Free of jargon, concise and stating clear what the purpose and the key points are.”