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How to write a press release

If you intend to write your own press release, you should be aware of various conventions relating to the structure and content. Press releases traditionally take the SOLAADS format, with information appearing in the following order: subject, organisation, location, advantages, applications, details, source. Always compose your release using an 'inverted pyramid' structure, with the most important information appearing first. That way, if a journalist stops reading after the first or second paragraph, he/she has already gleaned the vital facts. The headline must be succinct and snappy. Never use the past tense - e.g. XYZ Company Launches New Gizmo is appropriate, while XYZ Company Has Launched New Gizmo makes your announcement sound as if it's old news. If necessary, use a sub heading to include supporting details - e.g.: Roll Up for the Fun of the Fare (main), New Restaurant Opens in London W1 on 31 March (sub).

The first paragraph should encapsulate all the main facts and it must include the name of your company and whatever product/service/event you're announcing. E.g. "XYZ company, a Manchester based provider of support services to the catering industry, has won the 2002 Chamber of Commerce Award for Industry. The Award recognises XYZ's commitment to quality standards..." Or: "ABC, a London based developer of software for schools, is launching a new CD-ROM, GrassHoppers 2, that helps children learn about the lifespan of these fascinating creatures..."

Subsequent paragraphs should provide supporting information in a descending hierarchy of importance (remember the inverted pyramid!). Relate the most exciting and newsworthy aspects/applications of your product/service first.

You may wish to include a comment from a senior person at your company (ideally the manager, chairman or CEO), which journalists can use as a quote to support their news story. Avoid inane quotes that start with phrases such as "we are delighted" or "we are proud to announce", and try to introduce a pertinent element that hasn't been mentioned in the rest of the release. However, don't include too much quoted material, as this can fragment an announcement.

Present the press release objectively and always write in the third person - remove "I", "you", "we" and "us" and replace them with "it", "he/she" and "they". "The company" is always singular, so be sure to use "it" rather than "they" (e.g. XYZ Company is progressing with the initiative it has started" not "the initiative they have started"). Acronyms and abbreviations should be avoided. If used, spell them out in the first instance - e.g. electronic point of sale (EPOS) - and then introduce them in the abbreviated form thereafter (EPOS). Simple, concise language is preferable to long, protracted, "flowery" language. Never use claims such as "the world's no. 1 service", "our product is totally unique" (unless it's true and you can back it up with published research!) and avoid puffery such as "our fantastic new product" and "our magnificent new service". Don't rely on a barrage of industry jargon and buzzwords, such as "the cost-effective, leading edge, one-stop-shop solution to meet all your business needs". This sort of language is both meaningless and disliked by journalists.

And make sure you include:-

Notes to Editors: Background information on your company - when it was launched, where it's headquartered, any particular accolades or achievements, its main areas of activity, etc. - and any additional information not provided in the body of the release.

Contact details: The name, address, telephone/fax number and email address of your appointed contact person, which should appear at the bottom of the release so journalists can contact you easily if they require further information. You should also state whether you have photos available, as these shouldn't be attached to a release.

How to write a press release
When to send a press release
Contacting the media

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