The Essence of a Press Release
Get it Right, Get it Read, Get Results
Press Releases are intended to get the word out regarding something newsworthy about a company or product that is new, different or has impact on a market or marketplace. Anything else is just fluff. Don't get accused of providing fluff. You will never get your releases out to the public again.
When you are considering providing a press release, consider keeping the wording to an absolute minimum. Don't provide extra information that cannot be substantiated or doesn't add to the depth of the actual intended story. For example, if you company produces lamps and lampshades, it wouldn't be pertinent to include wallpaper in your press release - unless that is the story and your company is now going to make wallpaper that matches lampshade.
Brevity is important but be clear. Don't be exhaustive in explaining a small detail. Try to get the sentences down to what is needed to convey the essence of the story. Then quit writing. Do include a dateline (location) in your press release. Do include contact information and any kind of caveat about forward looking statements. These can be included below a line of ++++ indicating it should be included but isn't a part of the release.
Read the release aloud and do not inflect any prejudice in the way you read it. Someone else reading it won't hit the same high points you do. Read it bland, and low, and see if it still sounds right. Fix it over and over. Then send it to a trusted friend and ask what they think the important part is. If they get it right, and can discern what you are releasing, great. If not, re-write it and try again.
It is a Release, Not a Brochure
Remember, the intent of a release is to inform some group of intended readers of something special. It may be as boring as a 10k quarterly filing on a business. It may be a new product release or a new employee joining the company. Stick with the facts, don't try to get another free boost to sales off of the release.
I have seen press releases that could have been inserts in the Sunday newspaper. Sure, the company had just surpassed the previous years sales goals by 10%. But why is it important to list price cuts available for only a short time on select models - then listing the models and just about offering a coupon code!
Instead, think about the key point you are making. Put it in the first sentence. Build off of that news as to how that might affect relative processes or sales or employment. Go into another sentence or two in the next paragraph showing the importance of having this happen. Explain in the next paragraph how well the institution continues to perform and how it can be contacted. Done.
What Happens with Press Releases?
If you are a big advertiser in a trade publication and you have just hired half a dozen hot-shot managers to run a new division, and you write a press release touting who these folks are and how that division is charged with turning the red ink into black ink, you will get everything printed just about as written. Remember, if you submit the release already written, there is a good chance it won't be edited very much for content, IF you are a significant advertiser or could be. If you haven't bought a dime of advertising - and probably won't, you may still get your release printed - but look for it to be edited to fit the space allotted. That is important in that if you didn't write it where the key information isn't recognizable in the piece, your editor won't get it either.
What happens then is the editor considers how important it is to his or her readers to hear about your release. Then he looks at space he has to fit it in. If you aren't clear, concise and to the point, he chops it into two or three sentences you wish were never printed.
Be sure to include your contact information at the end of the release. After all, the purpose of the release it to get a response. If the reader doesn't know how to respond or where to respond, how are you going to judge the effectiveness of the release? Which is my final point. Put down some basic statistics and note any changes such as hits on the website, calls to the front desk or shares of stock bought or sold, after your press release. This can be duplicated as you learn what to include.