Journalists will usually spend just one minute reading your press release before deciding whether or not to use it. They can often get an idea if it’s newsworthy from just the opening few lines.
Any press release should give just enough information to spark the reader’s attention and make them want to find out more.
Here are some guidelines that will help you to write an effective press release that is just the right length.
How to keep your press release short and concise
1. Put the most important information first
With a press release you want to convince the person reading it that what you are sharing is interesting enough to pick up the phone or respond to your email. That’s why leading with the big news, main point or key takeaway is important.
You shouldn’t be adding extensive background information or context at this point – this can always be included in a "notes to editors" section at the end.
Journalists want to know the basics before they decide if they want to read on or not. Get straight to the point and if they like it, they’ll reach out.
2. Cut the fluff
You can write a quality press release that contains all the important details in 300-500 words. Your best bet is to try to get your release to fit on a single page, too much more than that and there is a good chance you’re just wasting space on words that will never get read.
To keep it concise, don’t add any details to your press release that aren’t absolutely needed. Any added fluff or waffle will only lose the impact of it. A busy news editor may also have time only to read your first paragraph. So, it must contain all the basic information.
3. Proofread your press release
It may seem obvious, but proofreading is great for catching mistakes and typos, and it’s also a valuable tool for making sure your press release isn’t too wordy.
You need to be sure the reader can understand what you are saying so repeat this step a few times and ask someone else from your team to help.
What should a press release include?
Grab them with a good headline
Your press release starts with the headline and this is the first impression. To stand out, it needs to be catchy as well as informative.
This is your sales pitch and a journalist may use it to determine whether your story is even worth reading.
The first paragraph should follow and outline the details of your announcement. Keep it brief, and get straight into the purpose, the story, and why they should cover it. The last thing the person you’re pitching to wants is to read a seemingly endless block of text that never gets to the point of the pitch.
Add a quote to your press release
The second paragraph is where you might include a quote and add some background to your announcement information.
A journalist may end up using the quote in their story word for word so make sure it includes the main message of your release. It should also read like a real person, and ideally sound like something the person you are quoting would say. Don’t use technical language or buzz words, you may have to answer any media requests if the press release gets picked up.
Don’t forget about images
If at all possible you should have an image to share with your press release. Those that do include some kind of visual element have been shown to get more views.
Your image needs to be relevant to the content and of high-quality. Journalists will not use, and people will not share, blurry images. A good tip is not to embed your image in the press release as many journalists dislike it or the email may get blocked by their server. Instead, at the start of the release put 'High-res image available here’ <link to download>
Call to Action
The last paragraph gives readers more facts like availability, times and dates for an event and any important information for people to take any potential action.
For example, if a new product is being released, when will it be released and where people can find it?. A strong call-to-action lets your audience know what they need to do next.
You’ll wrap up your press release with your boilerplate, this section should appear on all press releases that tells readers about your company.
As you can see, it’s easy to quickly use up your 500 words. That is why it’s important to focus on what the readers need to know.
If you need help getting your news or announcement out there, we can help with a range of PR activities including writing press releases. Visit our PR Services page or alternatively contact us for more information.