A press release is a written document used to inform the media about a certain topic, person or product. It is sent to different media outlets to then be communicated and broadcast to the rest of the population.
The first step to creating a press release is to have a clear idea of what you want to communicate and second, set up a method to develop it. Both traditional and modern (online) press releases are currently used and even though there are different formats and models all of them follow a basic structure that includes these elements:
This includes the company’s logo or simply the name of the company creating the press release. This section should also include the date and the company’s location.
If it is traditional press release, the words “PRESS RELEASE” should be written in the upper area of the paper or on the left side. If it is sent online it should start directly with the title and skip the headline. This is because the press release is sent to the media directly online and there is no need to indicate that it is a press release because this type of line distribution publishes it exactly as it is received.
The title is related to the main topic of the press release. It should be short(less than ten words), direct and pique the reader’s interest.
The title should stand out in larger print, be bold and centred at the top. Depending on the style, one can use headers or captions to support the text.
The title should generally include key words related to the company so that it increases visibility within search engines like Google. Whenever possible those key words should be included, although it is more important to make sure the title is related to the text so that it remains pertinent within the search results. If not, using key words that are not completely related to the text may have the opposite effect later on.
Keep in mind that search engines usually track up to the first 90 words of the text body.
This is the first paragraph or introduction which usually answers the five W questions: Who, What, When, Where and Why?
Start by indicating the location and date as this information will help to determine the amount of interest because it will be most relevant to those nearby. Online press releases that want to optimise search engine results should also include some of the key words mentioned above in this section.
This section develops and delves into the information previously mentioned in the five W questions. The information should also follow the order of an inverted pyramid: the most important information should be on top with more space and the less important information at the bottom. The body should develop what is in the title and avoid repetitions.
This section should contain between 300-500 words in one to three paragraphs and be written in journalistic language. This means that instead of using strategies to persuade and impact the reader like publicity, public relations should be based on the source’s credibility and show evidence for the information provided.
If this is an online press release and wishes to optimise search engine results it should include a link to the website every two paragraphs. They should be appropriately placed without interrupting the text. One should never advertise in a press release because it will be considered spam.
This section should include the name of the spokesperson representing the company in contact with the media. Indicate what they are in charge of, the name of the company, telephone/fax information, email and URL for the company’s website.
This is any additional material sent that is optional for traditional methods but essential for online releases. This may include photos related to the information or the company with one or two links to videos or any other material that can be sent via link that strengthens the press release.
Multimedia material and photos are great for search engines. Photos should have names related to the press release, tagged with ALT and even better if they include key words.