How to set up a press release template for PR success

A great press release is an incredibly powerful tool for any online marketer

The best thing about a great PR is that is bridges the gap between online and offline promotion, so it can be used to get links, coverage and traffic online and at the same time, build your brand and profile offline. In a nutshell, it contributes to earned and owned media building. It can be used to generate editorial coverage, adds credibility, is useful for outreach and is a powerful vehicle for building relevant, high quality links.

With so many positives, it’s surprising how many brands get press releases very wrong.

  1. 1

    Don't sell

    A press release is not a sales pitch. It should not read like a sales letter or an advert.

  2. 2

    Convey genuine news

    A PR or news release shouldn’t be something you do every day simply because you feel you have to produce new content.

  3. 3

    Be targeted and precise

    If your press releases have failed to perform in the past, it could be because you’re approaching them in the wrong way, with poor targeting and structure.

A great press release does take time to write and you will need to dedicate a portion of your day or week to brainstorming great angles but setting up a press release template can help streamline the process. Rather than scrabble around praying to the Gods of creativity each time a release is called for, turn to a solid PR template which you have created to suit your business needs. You can then re-use quickly and easily time and time again.

A press release template doesn’t mean each PR is a carbon copy of the last. It simply provides a coherent structure that makes the process of writing a decent PR or news release much easier.

“Take the time to prepare a PR template”

A press release template can also act as a roadmap, ensuring you stick to best practice on the journey from headline to boilerplate. To create your new PR template, open a blank Word document, give it a name such as PR template and start to fill in the fields below.

Building your PR template

Header: In the header of the Word document, add your contact information. This should include your full name, your email address and your direct line at the office. This can be aligned left or right as you prefer.

Logo: Still in the header, import your company logo. Use a low res version to keep the file size small for sending via email but make sure it is crisp, clear and of a fairly good quality. This should be aligned with the contact information on the opposite side of the page. Close the header.

Headline: There should always, always be a space for a headline at the top of your PR template. Your headline is the call to action, drawing in the reader and making them want to read more.

It should answer the ‘Why’? Why should the reader continue to read? While you can play around with the look and feel of the template, moving your logo, contact information and other standard bits of the PR puzzle to any space you deem fit, the headline must always go at the top of the release.

It should be formatted in bold and centred. Place the headline either all in caps or capitalize each word. You can use a slightly larger font (try 2 points bigger) for the headline.

Sub-headline: Include a space under the headline for a sub-head if you’d like. This is a teaser and gives the reader that extra push to keep going. It can expand upon the headline a little, perhaps by one or two lines. It can be in bold or italicized. Keep it to the same size as the body text.

Lead paragraph: Your lead paragraph acts as a summary of the story. News editors and journalists are busy people. Use the lead paragraph to give them the bare bones of the story so they understand the basics if they just don’t have time to read the whole thing. Put yourself in their shoes to write the lead paragraph. You want something that is attention grabbing, that conveys the point of the release and is new and different. Keep it succinct and explain the who, what, where, why and when of your news clearly and without hyperbole.

Body of the release: Professional journalists and PR writers will typically use a pyramid approach to writing body copy. Picture a triangle, with the tip of the triangle pointing to the top of your page. At the top of the page you have the most important information, beginning with the headline, which then filters down to the smaller details and background information. The idea is that the reader can read the headline and / or the intro to the PR and know what the news is. The further down the pyramid or triangle they read, the more of the smaller details they glean.

Quotes: It’s good practice to include a quote in your release. A quote should add something to the release and will give a second layer of detail which your business-like body copy may not convey. Quotes from clients, stakeholders or senior management are often a strong addition.

Boilerplate: The boilerplate of your release is really the ‘About Us’ section. This can stay the same on each release or can be tweaked according to topic. A few lines will suffice.

Contact: Add your contact info, or the contact details of your PR agency at the end of the release along with a link to any high res images you may have available.

If you’re struggling to create an impact with your own PR, don’t know who to send your releases too or simply don’t have the resources to create them in-house, our experienced digital PR team is here to help. Simply get in touch to find out more or place your order for a PR with targeted media distribution here.

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