The 5W's of a Press Release!
Updated: Feb 13
This blog will help you understand two key points:
-The critical components of a press release
-How to frame a good press release
Previously, we looked at the structure of a good press release, which included the headline, dateline, opening, and body paragraphs, boilerplate, and, last but not least, contact information. Now we're going to take a closer look at the "meat" of the press release.
Any journalists worth their salt can tell you about the 5 Ws: What, Who, Where, When, and Why. While the 5 Ws are a fairly elementary practice in writing and are critical when writing press releases.
By adding the relevant information clearly and at the beginning of the press release, journalists can pick up on the critical information, decide whether or not to care, and are more likely to continue reading for more details.
Let us take a closer look at the specifics of the 5 Ws that make a good press release.
Get to the point quickly so the reader can decide whether or not the release is relevant to them. The 'what' of the press release should be in the headline and the opening paragraph to declare "what is important about the release?"
Do: Read your release after it's written and ask whether or not the importance and relevance can be easily determined on the first reading.
Don't: Try to make your piece sensational or coy. If the reader has to dig for why the work is essential to them, they're not going to bother. Instead, clearly state both assertions and conclusions.
'Who' refers to both the source of the piece and who will be affected by the information. Let's look at an example headline and introduction that needs to identify its target audience.
Hurricane Could Affect Delivery Times
FLORDIA, Sept. 23, 2022- Logistics networks are in disarray from Hurricane Ian. Several parcel carrier services announced service outages in certain areas due to damage caused by the storm.
Both the Headline and the Introduction are very vague when it comes to the basics.
For example, the reader needs to know who has issued the release, who will be affected, or how widespread the problem is.
Now, let's look at an example that has the relevant information.
UPS, FedEx, and USPS Suspend Services due to Damage Caused by Hurricane Ian
FLORIDA, Sept. 23, 2022- Major parcel carrier companies, UPS, FedEx, and USPS, have announced that they will suspend their services in the areas affected by Hurricane Ian, a category 4 storm. Each company has posted its list of out-of-service regions on its respective websites until they can safely resume the deliveries.
The example above clearly stated the important information from the outset.
The 'where' of the press release will go beyond the dateline and discuss the areas the information will influence.
Here are a few things to keep in mind when it comes to 'where':
In a press release, the headline and the opening paragraph should make it easy to determine where an event is held, or an announcement is made.
Information about where to find additional information that is too long to be added to the body of the release should be easy to find.
Specific locations of who or what will be affected should be identified explicitly.
Timing is crucial when it comes to press releases, as they are almost always time sensitive. Therefore, the 'when' should include the date, time, and duration.
Here are a few other things to consider when it comes to writing the 'when' of a press release:
Stick to one format when writing out the time and date.
Make sure the release specifies if the event or announcement is scheduled for a.m or p.m
Include a time zone, as many press releases will gain national or global exposure.
The 'why' of the press release is more or less the entire point, and if done correctly, the other Ws should all directly tie into the why. But, even still, the 'why' should be spelled out for the reader.
So, while the headline and opening paragraph are where the other Ws live, the body paragraphs build on and reinforce the why.
When the 5 Ws are pulled together correctly, the journalist can quickly assess whether something is news for their readers. Remember, they're juggling a lot of stories and are always short on time.
We now have the structure and vital information for a successful press release. Next time, we'll look at combining the two into one comprehensive piece.
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.