Compose a well-written press release.
Send it to the appropriate media.

Writing your press release-the basics.

See "How to Write a Press Release" for in-depth instructions.

The premise. Write your release as if you were a newspaper reporter, within the well-established framework and journalistic style of a news story. Pick up a major daily newspaper and read several stories. They should all have three things in common. An attention grabbing headline. An opening paragraph (called the lead paragraph) that covers the five W's (Who, what, when, where and why) and an 'inverted pyramid' information presentation strategy.

First things first. If you are trying to promote a get-rich-quick scheme, a new MLM opportunity or a diet 'guaranteed' to take off ten pounds in one week, your release will end up in the wastebasket. You must have a decent product, a worthy service or a newsworthy event that you are publicizing.

That said, your release should be printed on a company letterhead and the text should be double-spaced to allow room for an editor to edit. Put your full contact information in the upper left hand corner-your name, address, phone, fax and e-mail. Next comes your headline. It has to summarize the content of the release as well as catch the editor's attention. It should, in some fashion, stand out from all the other releases that are on the editor's desk.

Frankly, I've never written such a headline when I have promoted Gebbie Press, is still sound advice! The first paragraph should present the essence of your message; it should be able to be read standing by itself and communicate almost 100% of what it is you are trying to say. There should be what is called a 'hook', something that captivates your audience and makes them want to read the rest of the story. That is to say, it must be in some way newsworthy and relevant to the reader.

Proper grammar, punctuation and spelling are givens. Four or five fairly short sentences per paragraph are a good starting point. This is not the place for fancy language or prose. Remember to write as if you are a journalist reporting a news story. After the lead paragraph, details are presented in order of importance. Four or possibly five paragraphs should suffice; assume that the editor will cut from the end of your story first.

I'll put myself on the spot and try to give you an example of a good headline and lead paragraph. Let's say you are the PR person for the Bison industry. A timely, catchy and even amusing headline might be "Bisons Don't Get Mad Cow Disease" or "Not One Case of Mad Cow Disease Reported in Bisons"

Omaha, Nebraska. Dr. Thomas Jarvis of The Bison Industry Council announced today that "Bisons simply cannot contract Mad Cow Disease." For beef eaters worried about tainted hamburger, bison burgers are a healthy alternative. Much leaner than beef, bison is also a heart-friendly low cholesterol choice.

I've written a somewhat clever headline and stated my case within the space of one paragraph that will entice the concerned reader to continue on to the details.

If you decide you cannot write your own release, hire someone. It should not cost a lot and it will be money well spent.