The Geometry of a Press Release: The Inverted Triangle
Last time we looked at words and grammar and how they can be used to keep the reader’s attention and make a press release engaging. Now we’ll look at the writing style that should be utilized for a strong release: “the inverted triangle.”
The inverted triangle (or pyramid) is perhaps the easiest and most practical way of writing a press release and is a writing style most commonly used by journalists. The inverted triangle shares the most important information of the story first before funneling down additional details that further explain and support the main message, filling in any gaps in the reader's knowledge.
Pro Tip: Journalists use the inverted triangle extensively when writing. By writing in the same style, you make it easier for them to do their writing and increase your chances of your press release being read, understood, and covered in the news.
The top of the triangle is the widest part and represents the longest but the most important information. In the case of a press release, it will be the headline and the opening paragraph, which should contain the 5 Ws, the who, what, where, when, and why.
The middle of the triangle consists of your body paragraphs, the supporting information, and relevant details that help the reader understand why this particular piece is relevant and interesting to the target audience.
The bottom point of the triangle is the company boilerplate. The reader has been funneled down to your company information which helps frame the overall story and could be relevant for the journalist.
Here are a few key reasons all PRs should be written in this style:
It puts all the important information (5 Ws) at the forefront, so journalists can quickly asses whether something is news for their audience.
Journalists are juggling a lot of stories and are short on time. A well-structured press release helps them pitch the piece to their editors; —yes, they, too, have to pitch the story.
A press release written in this style is easier to translate into a news story and increases the odds of the journalist being willing to use it.
Below is an example of a press release that doesn’t use an inverted triangle:
A computer software and electronics manufacturer is proud to announce the latest generation of graphics cards.
“We’re excited to see what our users will do with this new technology,” said Dave Emmons.
Emmons is the CEO of ComX, an electronics manufacturer that specializes in engineering and prototyping advanced hardware and software for the computer gaming community. He said the new graphics cards will be available early next year.
The new graphics cards will reduce stuttering and lag, promising the highest resolution and refresh rate for even the most demanding games. The graphics cards will be available in retail stores on January 31st.
“These graphics cards are on the leading edge of technology and will set the bar even higher for game designers,” Emmons said.
While the 5 Ws are addressed, the information is buried and scattered in the body of the text.
Now let’s look at that same press release but written using an inverted triangle structure:
ComX announced today the release of a next-generation graphics card early next year that will meet the needs of even the most discerning customers.
Dave Emmons, CEO of the electronics manufacturing company, said the new cards will be available for purchase in retail stores on January 31st and will reduce stuttering and lag while delivering the highest resolution and refresh rate for even the most demanding games. “I’m excited to see what our users will do with this new technology,” Emmons said. “These graphics cards are on the leading edge of technology and will set the bar even higher for game designers.”
Royal Bakery announced today the release of several new products in time for the holiday season and will be a perfect addition to holiday parties and last-minute gift ideas.
In the second example, the 5 Ws are addressed immediately. In addition to the important information being clearly expressed at the top, it’s also been concisely summarized at the end.
By now, we have the structure of the press release well established. We know what to say and more-or-less how to say it. We understand the order and the importance of each section and how to tie them all together.
Click here to learn the finer points of putting together the perfect release.
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.