Be Newsworthy: Before you start to write a press release, ask yourself two questions. What is my story? And second, is my story news? The story could be a trend that is shaping your industry, a change in your organization’s executive team, the introduction of product or service that will radically change the way we do things. Like any communication piece, your press release must always tell who, what, where, when, why and how. The point of a release is to entice the reader or journalist to contact you for further information. A press release is not an advertorial, its intent is to disseminate news worth sharing about your organization to the reader. If your press release is not newsworthy enough, wait until you have something substantive and worthwhile to say.
Attention Grabbing Headline: The headline is the most important section of your press release because it’s what media professionals first see in the email inbox, in news wires and RSS feed, and it’s also what shows up on social networking sites. Your press release headline should be between 90 and 120 character including spaces, with your most important keywords within the first 65 characters. Do not worry that the headline is so short because you can add details by adding a subheading. Whenever possible, include numbers in your headlines because research shows that they perform better than headlines without numerals.
Search Engine Optimization: Use your most important keyword once again in the lead of your press release and optimize the first 250 words. Link your keywords to relevant pages on your website, that isn’t your home page to create a portal to your website. To optimize visibility of your press release, add high quality images, audio (podcasts) and videos, and host them on them on the Flickr, iTunes and YouTube respectively because they are spidered frequently by the largest search engines. Flickr, iTunes and YouTube are also searchable social tools. Your press releases should also include headings, subheadings, bulleted lists, bold and italics to enhance SEO.
Include Quotes: Include quotes from the president of the company because it conveys the importance of the message. If possible, also include quotes from a customer or an analyst to add legitimacy to the news. It also raises the level of newsworthiness and the opportunity for it to be covered by the media. Always make sure that you secure permission before using quotes.
Press Release Formatting: Your press release should be double spaced or 1.5 spaced, no longer than 3 pages, but preferably between 350 and 500 words because they get more exposure. If your press release is longer than a page, at the end of each place include (more) (10) so that the reader knows to continue reading. Signal the end of your press release with ### symbols, centered directly underneath the last line of the release. This is standard practice.
Include Information About Your Company: It is also important to include information about your company such as its mission, strategy and URL address.
Add Contact Information: Media professionals need to know who to follow-up with, so include phone number, an email address, and the name of the person to contact, which is usually the PR representative, or a marketing communications person.