How To Write the Body of a Press Release: Press Release Series 5

press releaseLet’s continue our press release tutorial by talking about the most important part of the press release: the body. 

The body of the press release is where you actually tell your news story. With online press releases, this section is usually written like a fully developed newspaper article. It can tell a story and often includes quotes. It should range from around 250 words to around 800 words.

The body of a press release can technically follow any format you want to use. However, there are some rules and some “best practices” that you should follow if you want a better chance of journalists, bloggers or website owners to pick up your release.

Press Release Rules

Rule #1: Write your press release in third person, not first person.
Example of third person:

Joe Smith Enterprises announced today that the company would be holding a sale to celebrate their fifth anniversary of doing business in Tulsa, OK.

Example of first person (which you can’t use):

Joe Smith here. My company, Joe Smith Enterprises, is holding a sale ….

Tip: You can use first person if you’re quoting someone. You must use the correct punctuation to show that something is a quote.

Joe Smith Enterprises announced today that the company would be holding a sale to celebrate their fifth anniversary of doing business in Tulsa, OK.

“The people of Tulsa have been good to us since we first opened in 2008,” said Joe Smith, owner of the company. “We want to show our appreciation by offering a 50 percent discount on all items in our store.”

The quotation marks show that Joe Smith is speaking. In that case and only in that case, you can use first person. Otherwise, write in third, as if you’re reporting news about someone else.

Rule #2: No selling.
A press release is news, not a sales pitch. Just report the facts. That said, there is a way you can slip a subtle sales pitch into your press release. See Guideline #3 below.

Press Release Guidelines

In addition to the rules, for the sake of this course we’re going to set some guidelines that you can follow when writing your press release. Are these guidelines set in stone, handed down by the journalist gods? Do all press releases follow them? No. They’re just guidelines that I’ve found effective when writing my press releases.

Guideline #1: Use three sections in the body of your press release. Why?

  • Three sections helps ensure that your press release is an appropriate length. Too long or too short can affect whether or not the press release gets picked up.
  • When the body is broken down into sections, it’s easier to figure out what to write.

Guideline #2: Each section should be between 75 and 250 words. Why?

  • If your press release is too short, it will probably be ignored. And honestly, if you don’t have enough to say to reach a few hundred words, you probably don’t have news to report anyway.
  • If your press release is too long, few people will read it. Readers online tend to skim everything and skip really long articles. Three sections at 250 words is 750 words, a fairly long article.

Guideline #3: If at all possible, include a quote or two. Why?

  • Quotes break up the dry news story and add interest.
  • You can use your quote to sell if you do it right. If your quote, for example, explains why the business’s customers want or need the business’s products or services, you can subtly suggest to readers that they need the product or service, too.

Example: “When our customers come to us, they’ve usually had a difficult time losing weight,” said George Black, manager of the fitness center. “They’ve tried diets and exercise many times. Most of them are amazed at how quickly they start to lose once they start taking our Double-Jointed-Dance classes.”

Tip: You’re the manager of your business. You can quote yourself.

How To Put a Press Release Together

Let’s look at what you can put in each section of your press release.

Section 1 – What is the news?
In the first section of your press release, your best option is to give a summary of the news. Tell the 5 W’s (who, what, when, where, and why).

Example: The staff at BuyMyWidget.com has compiled a top 10 widgets for the home list. The top 10 list, posted yesterday on their website, ranks the best widgets for home improvement based on customer reviews and ratings.
Who: the staff at BuyMyWidget.com
What: posted a top 10 list of widgets
When: Yesterday
Where: on the BuyMyWidget.com website
Why are they the top ten: Customer ratings and reviews

Other ideas for the first section include:

  • describe a problem that the news is solving
  • give an interesting statistic connected to the news

Even if you use these alternative ideas, you should still follow up with your 5 W’s.

Tip: For best SEO impact, try to have your keyword somewhere in the first sentence. If you can’t make it sound natural in the first sentence, make sure it’s in the first paragraph somewhere.

Section 2 – Why is the news important to the reader?
The first section told what your news was. This section shows why your news is important. You can:

  • Explain how the news is useful and/or solves a problem.
  • Include a quote or two from someone in the business or from a customer that shows the importance of the news.
  • Give the background of how the news story came about.
  • Explain who the business/service provider is and what they do (possibly including the history of the company).

You can do all four options or mix and match any of the options. Here’s an example that covers all four options:

Thousands of people every day invest time and money in improving their home. BuyMyWidget.com is a website devoted to helping home improvement experts and amateurs save time as they shop for the widgets they need.

 

“There are so many different types of widgets out there,” said Bob Smith, owner of the website. “When I’m working on a home improvement project, I want to know which widget is going to do what I want it to do. I don’t want to spend hours searching, either. BuyMyWidget.com was created to help people like me find the widgets they need for their projects so that they can get back to work quickly.”

 

The staff at BuyMyWidget.com scours the web daily for new widgets. They also find and collect customer reviews of widgets to help visitors to the website know what they’re buying before they buy.

 

“My staff are widget experts,” stated Smith. “They spend all day every day looking for new widgets and seeing how real widget users feel about the widgets they bought. Some of those widgets were clearly standing out as the best of the best. We decided to put together our list based on the best rated widgets available online. If a widget is on that list, it’s something special.”

Section 3 – What else does the reader need to know?
The third section is the section where you give the reader the details they need to know to use the news. You can include:

  • Additional details about the product, service, or company.
  • The location of product/service/etc.
  • The availability or how to access product/company/service.
  • What the company will be doing in the near future that’s related to your news.

Example:

The top 10 Widget list is available at http://www.buymywidget.com/top-ten-list.html. It includes sections devoted to highest rated bathroom widgets, kitchen widgets, and outdoor widgets.

 

“It’s proving to be a popular list,” said Smith. “Customers love it. We’ll most likely do another one next year.”

Okay, so that was a lot of information, wasn’t it? Let’s summarize it:

The Rules:

  • #1: Write your press release in third person, not first person.
  • #2: No selling.

The Guidelines:

  • #1: Use three sections in the body of your press release.
    • Section 1 – What is the news?
    • Section 2 – Why is the news important to the reader?
    • Section 3 – What else does the reader need to know?
  • #2: Each section should be between 75 and 250 words.
  • #3: If at all possible, include a quote or two. You can always quote yourself or your pseudonym.

If you follow these rules and guidelines, and you tell your news in an interesting way, you’ll find that your press release can help bring traffic to your site.

We’ll finish up this series on press releases in the next post, where we’ll talk about boilerplates and where to submit your press release. If you have any questions about press releases, drop me a comment or use my contact form to email me. And don’t forget to Like or Tweet this post if it’s been helpful to you!






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6 thoughts on “How To Write the Body of a Press Release: Press Release Series 5

  1. Great this comes in good time, I am about to write and submit a press release here soon. This is a very nice write up and information about writing a press release.

    Though, I thought you wanted to kinda of hype up or really offer a great news angle for the press release to be accepted is this correct?

    Thanks for your time,

    Eric

    P.S. do you submit the press releases or do you just write them?
    Eric Pangburn recently posted…Figure Out What People Want and Give it to Them Now!My Profile

    • Press release distribution services will generally accept press releases if they’re well-written, follow the format requirements, and contain something reasonably newsworthy. From there, journalists, bloggers and website owners decide if they want to use the press release on their sites. Obviously the more interesting it is, the more likely it is to be picked up. In fact, a suggestion I’m going to make in my final post is to find a current news angle that you can tie your news to.

      P.S. do you submit the press releases or do you just write them?

      I’m not sure what you’re asking. Do I, personally, submit press releases? I submit my own, but generally only to one service. I’ll talk more about that in the last post, too.

  2. Thanks Katie for this information. Writing Press Releases is something I need to start doing more often and I know some of my writing clients have asked if I offer this.

    Great info!
    Sue Fleckenstein recently posted…Kettlebell PLRMy Profile

  3. Katie, great post. I’ve always wanted to know how to write the proper press release. Other info I’ve found on the internet has been too complicated. I love your tutorial…have bookmarked for future references. Thanks again!

    • Thanks, Sydney! I’m glad my tutorial was helpful to you. If you find you have questions when you write your press releases, feel free to ask.

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