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How to write a press release

A simple guide for small businesses on how to write an effective press release.

As a small business, getting your product or service in front of the relevant editors and journalists can be a game-changer; booking editorial coverage (both in digital and print) is a great way of gaining visibility for your brand. One of the most traditional ways of pitching for this type of coverage is by sending out a press release.

For a small business this may sound intimidating, and there’s often a lot of fluffed-up industry jargon, but it’s ultimately about communicating information in an effective and clear manner. With that in mind, here are my top tips for writing a press release.

1. CLEAR SUBJECT TITLE

Whilst it’s always good to be creative and unique, when it comes to the subject title in your email, keep it clear and to the point. The title should be a good indicator as to what the press release is about; if you over complicate it or make it too long, it can look like spam.

2. THE 5 Ws

If you don’t know about ‘The 5 Ws’, get to know:

Who

What

When

Where

Why

Ensure that these Ws are covered in your press release.

3. FIRST PARAGRAPH

Make sure that whatever the press release is about is fully summarised in the first paragraph, ideally including The 5 Ws. To give yourself the best chance of holding someone’s attention, you want to make sure that the person that opened your email knows exactly what it’s about as soon as they start reading.

4. IMAGERY

Include relevant hi-res images that will stand out and catch the readers eye. If it’s unclear what the image is, include a caption to go with it.

5. ABOUT YOU

Include a clearly marked ‘About us/me’ section so if someone is new to your brand they can clearly see what you do without having to read the whole press release – they may end up keeping you in mind for something else purely based on what you do.

6. THE FINER DETAILS

Include clear and correct finer details such as pricing, contact information, launch dates etc. The easier and clearer you can make it for the editor, the easier it is for them to imagine you in their publication. It also shows that you have made the effort – a sloppy press release will get discarded!

Notes from an Editor

Here are some additional notes from me including some examples from my current job working as an editor at a publishing company:

  • Magazines often work 4 months ahead, so bare this in mind when pitching for seasonal stories – Christmas stories can often be an even longer lead time!
  • Images should be sent hi-res but don’t include too many in one email, just submit the best ones – my computer has crashed before from being sent too many images, and I never opened the email again. If you need to send a lot of imagery, just attach 2-3 of the best images and then add a dropbox link to the rest.
  • Don’t be dis-heartened if you don’t hear back, I often save emails of interest for future reference or forward them on to colleagues.
  • Don’t be afraid to chase up! Editors and journalists get sent so many press releases so a gentle (and polite!) chase up is absolutely fine.  
  • Add a personal touch by customizing a press release if you are sending it directly to a specific editor or journalist.
  • Make sure you research the publication and their house style before you write a press release.

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