How to Write a Press Release

How to Write a Press Release, by Rebecca Kellogg, MASSAGE MagazineIs your massage business doing something noteworthy, such as providing free massages to runners at the end of a major marathon or developing a new program for use in business locations? Letting the world know about it could help you build the reputation and visibility of your business. But how do you get the word out? One effective tool you can use is the press release.

A press release is a business tool. It allows you to share what is newsworthy about your business and provide story ideas to the media.

The first step in writing a press release is to determine what is newsworthy about your business. What do you offer that is different, new or remarkable? Sometimes even minor new things can be fodder for a successful press release. Say you take on a new partner or expand your list of services. Make a press release about it and send it out. You might get a mention in the business section of your local paper.

To write your own press release, follow the following format:

  • Use your company letterhead.
  • Flush left at the top, give the name, phone number and e-mail address of a contact person (you or whomever reporters should contact with questions about the story). Flush right, it is helpful to include a date.
  • Leave a line of white space after the contact info, then center your cursor and type in your headline. The headline should have a hook—something that makes the reader want to read on. What is it about your story that has the most appeal? Try writing five different headlines about your story, then choose your favorite one. The headline should be written in initial caps, or some prefer to use all caps.
  • Centered below your headline should be the phrase “For Immediate Release,” followed by a line of white space.

In the body of your press release, the first paragraph is the most important.

To be helpful to a journalist, your release should contain the “who,” “what,” “when,” “where,” “why” and “how” of your story and should read like a news article. Take the example of offering massages to runners.The gist of the article should be summed up at the beginning, like this:

“The Healing Hands Massage team, led by company president Larry Smith, is looking forward to its 10th consecutive year of offering massages to finishers of the St. George marathon next month.”

Notice how that paragraph sums up the story.

There should be more to the release than this, however. Move it along with some back story, a unique twist or something else that adds human interest.

Perhaps your second paragraph might look like this:

“Healing Hands Massage came to be involved with the St. George marathon at the direction of company president Gordon Smith. Smith himself used to be a marathon runner until a car accident sidelined him. Now, he cheers on fellow runners from the finish line and is one of their biggest fans.”

Or:

“This year, Healing Hands will be the largest participating group of post-race massage therapists with 18 volunteers.”

The story can then continue following the style you’ll find in most newspapers. It should be told in the third person, should be free of hyperbole and low on exclamation points, and should include quotes from the people involved. Read through your final document a few times before mailing it off—remember, it is representing your business to the broader world. Your total length should be no more than two pages, but one page is better. In the event someone wants more information, he or she can get in touch with you by using the handy contact information you’ve listed at the top of your page.

At the end of the release include a line with three centered number signs: ###. This means “end of article.”

When mailing out your press releases, target local press—newspapers, magazines and Web sites that are read by your clientele. If you feel you have a truly unique story, try contacting media with a broader coverage area. When deciding whom to contact at each organization, you might increase your odds of the press release ending up with the right editor or reporter by targeting an editor who covers health or business as part of his or her duties.

Remember, the publication will probably not run your release word for word the way you send it in—they might, but they might also condense it or give it to a reporter who can then consider it as the germ of a story idea. The press release is an informational tool, and by utilizing it, you offer your story to the world—and you never know who will take it.

Rebecca Kellogg is a freelance writer based in California. Contact her at rkellogg@gmail.com.

 

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