The whole purpose of a press release is to inform. They’re a compilation of facts that contain the answers to the basic questions of who, what, when, where and why. Press releases tell a story in miniature, devoid of frills and excess verbiage. They convey your message in a clear, concise and easy to read manner. Press releases, also known as briefs, vary in length depending upon the subject matter. The keyword for a press release is brevity. You just want the facts. The majority of press releases that appear in newspapers are usually about 200 words or less. Press releases for use online can vary from 200 words up to 800, with the average falling somewhere in the middle. The who in a press release is you, your organization or business. It’s appropriate to include a couple of sentences about what you do. After you’ve established your identity, move on to the what. That can be a product launch, the relocation of a business or a series of church-related events.
You’ll want to include the specific date and time the event will take place. Where is just as important, so don’t forget the complete address. If the location is difficult to find, directions may also be included. Finally, you’ll want to tell readers why they should be interested in your information and what they have to gain. If it’s a fundraiser, be sure they know who will benefit. If it’s a child-oriented or adult only gathering, that’s information they need to know. If it’s a new product, briefly tell them why it’s unique. It’s standard practice to include a phone number if someone wants additional information. It’s also acceptable to include your email or website address if pertinent. If there’s a fee or cost associated with your event, that should also be included. Press releases represent a source of free advertising, depending on where they’re submitted. Press releases are typically submitted to traditional media outlets such as newspapers, magazines, and TV and radio stations. Broadcast media leans more toward press releases that are public service-oriented. Magazines are quite selective about the information they publish, so it’s best to research the publication first. Newspapers are by far the largest outlet for print media press releases. The biggest problem newspapers encounter are notices submitted as press releases that are more appropriate as paid advertising.
It’s important to understand that newspapers have a limited amount of space and the two-page masterpiece you wrote will very likely be reduced to approximately four inches of copy that contains the basic who, what, when, where, and why. The Internet has opened up an unlimited amount of opportunities for exposure through press releases. There are websites that will publish your press release for free, while others charge a fee. Press releases submitted for release online have the added potential of reaching a worldwide audience. If the focus of your announcement is local, the best solution is to submit it to your local newspaper. Internet press releases tend to be longer than those in print media, but shorter than an article or story. The question of whether to include a quote in press releases is a matter of debate. Quotes are not absolutely necessary, but they do provide an opportunity to say something not otherwise included in the basic information. If space is particularly scarce, a quote will often be eliminated from the piece when it’s published in print media.
Press releases can be your friend. They can promote a cause or highlight your business. No matter the length, the important thing is to address who, what, when, where and why in your information. Don’t talk down to your audience, but don’t go overboard on technical language or jargon either. People want clear, easy to understand language that allows them to glean the facts as quickly as possible. If your readers want or need more information, that’s why you included your contact information.