Working within the field of public relations can be stressful and intimidating at times. There are many components that PR practitioners have to be aware of and follow if they want to succeed. According to the PRSA website (2009) “Public relations is a strategic communication process that builds mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and their publics” (p. 1). Being able to connect to the public and have them receive your message is the single thing that drives the need for public relations. One of the ways that has been used to connect public relation practitioners with the public is press releases.
According to professionals within the field, “the press release was born following a train wreck on October 28, 1906, in Atlantic City, N.J., that left more than 50 people dead” (Kennedy, 2010, p. 1). Kennedy (2010) says since they were first invented, press releases have been used for a number of purposes, including providing information when a company needs to address an issue, making announcements by individuals that intend to seek elected office, announcing a company’s new or improved product/service or to respond to accusations against them, and many more (p. 1).
Being able to reach your audience in a timely matter is key in the field of public relations. The faster you can connect with the audience, the faster you can get your message across, and the happier you client will be. As with any type of print media, there is a right way and a wrong way to write it. Press releases can be very difficult to write because the author must be clear, concise, and to the point. If the author of the press release uses language that the audience will not understand they may chose to ignore what is being said. Since writing press releases can be so difficult to write there are many sources that have published tips for writing effective press releases.
Geoffrey James (2010) wrote an article for CBS News that gave what he has found to be the most effective ways to write a press release. His five rules are, “Use the press release as a sales tool, have a newsworthy story, write it like a reporter would write it, provide some good quotes, and contact you top outlets personally” (James, 2010, p. 1).
Zach Cutler (2012) wrote an article for the Huffington Post where he also provided tips for writing a great press release. His tips are as follows:
Grab attention with a good headline, get right to the point in the first paragraph, include hard numbers, make it grammatically flawless, include quotes whenever possible, include contact information, one page is best—and two is the maximum, and provide access to more information. (p. 1)
A combination of all eight of these tips can help to make a press release even more effective than before. When the press releases were first invented, there was not much thought that was being put into them, as the field of public relations changes the art of writing press releases is also changing.
The company Media Tracking (2011) wrote a blog post titled “10 Tips on How to Create an Effective Press Release.” Their tips were as follows:
Incorporate the most important information at the beginning, write the release in perceptive of your audience, do not put too many facts or promotional tagline in your release, offer to donate to a worthy cause, relate you services or products to a national or local news event, incorporate seasonal events in your press release, follow the press release format strictly, use an approach that is direct and to the point, mention quotes, and ensure that language quality is high. (p.1)
Once again we see that those that have been in the public relations field stress how important it is to relate the topic of your release to the public and make it something that they will be interested in reading and learning more about. Most of the tips that have been listed above deal with making sure your message is clear and concise. The audience does not have time to read through a press release that gives them no viable information; they are looking for the cold hard facts and if they can’t find it easily they will move on.
As we can see just from these three sources, there are many tips for writing effective press releases. Being able to write a press release that leaves a lasting impression on an audience is a skill that those within the field of public relations have continuously practiced. They have used this skill to get their messages across for many years and I have no doubt that they will continue to use it for many more.
Cutler, Z. (2012). 8 Tips for Writing a Great Press Release. The Huffington Post. Retrieved from http://www.huffingtonpost.com/zach-cutler/press-release tips_b_2120630.html
James, G. (2010). How to Write a Press Release, with Examples. CBS Money Watch. Retrieved from http://www.cbsnews.com/news/how-to-write-a-press release-with-examples/
Kenney, M. (2010). The History of the Press Release. PR Fuel: PR News, Views, & Stews. Retrieved from http://www.ereleases.com/prfuel/history-of-the-press-release/
Media Tracking. (2011). 10 Tips on How to Create an Effective Press Release. Media Tracking: PR Management Made Simple. Retrieved from http://mediatracking.com/index.php/archives/389
PRSA. (2010). About Public Relations. Public Relations Society of America. Retrieved from https://www.prsa.org/aboutprsa/publicrelationsdefined/#.VuyZD8c4mt8