Last time, we talked about the 5 W’s, who, what, where, when, and why. Each one of the Ws carries critical information and is a vital part of the release. Combined, they make up an effective press release.
Furthermore, following the rules of 5 Ws will keep your press release brief and precise, making all of the important information easy for the reader to find and understand.
Remember, your press release is the first step and your only chance, unless you are a sought-after superstar, to reach the media about a business event or a product, or your successes and, when done well, is your best chance for garnering media coverage.
In addition to the 5 Ws, as the next step, here are a few other tidbits to keep in mind when putting together your press release.
Get to the Point!
A press release isn’t meant to be a sensational read, nor is it intended to provide the entire history of a product or a company exec.
A press release is a means of conveying information, and as such, it should focus on one newsworthy bit of information at a time. Not two or three, or four. Only one. Precision is the goal of any effective release.
From start to finish, a press release should clock in at about 500 words, maximum. Both editors and reporters have themselves indicated that 350-500 words are a good length to be easily digested during a single sitting. Typically speaking, 350-500 words will fit in a single page of a standard word-processor document, which has become an industry standard. In fact, most wire services will charge overage fees for any release over 400 words.
That’s not to say that all wire services have such a stringent model, and some also recognize that a press release needs to be a bit longer out of necessity. When debating whether or not to add extra information, keep this in mind, if a press release is vague, too detailed, or begins to ramble, it becomes ineffective for two reasons:
It becomes difficult to understand the importance of the information presented in the release.
The important information becomes buried deep in the release.
Remember, a journalist will likely have their mind made up by the time they finish the first paragraph as to whether or not the press release is of any interest to them. To that end, the 5 Ws need to be present in both the headline and the opening paragraph in order to grab the journalist's attention.
As tempting as it might be to provide facts, figures, and extra details, it’s best to provide only the information and data necessary to convey the critical information. If there are more data that might be of interest to the journalist, provide a link to where the extra information can be viewed online or add contact information.
Although precision is the aim of an effective press release, there is such a thing as being too concise. Sometimes when trying to shave down the word count, important information or the context is lost to the point where the information is obscured. Remember, if a journalist has to think about what you’re trying to say in your release, they’ll skip it rather than ask for clarification.
If you need to cut the number of words, you can always trade the boilerplate for that critical piece of information.
So now we understand the structure of a press release and that the 5 Ws provide vital information for the journalist. We understand that a good press release is precise and to the point. These are all important steps, but they aren’t the only ones.
Is it still confusing? We have helped many clients write and release successful press releases over the years, and we would be happy to help you too. Drop us a message, and we will get back to you.