By now I'm sure you know the marketing value of a good press release. However, it is important to write a press release properly to ensure it will be given the necessary attention. The following steps will give you an acceptable format and include what media outlets expect to see in a press release.

As a good start, the top of the page should include all contact information, name, phone, complete address, email, website etc. It should then say News Release in big bold letters. On the left side of the page at the top state a date for the release such as 'For Release on June 1, 2008'.

If your release is written in such a way that it could be run at literally any time of the year, it is referred to as "evergreen". If that is the case you would state the preferred time of release as 'For Immediate Release.' In this way no matter when someone comes across your release they will know that it is worth reading and that it has not passed its relevancy date.

The next line should be the headline of the press release. The headline needs to be catchy, factual, and the bottom line of what the press release is about. Give the reader a quick indication at a glance on what they are about to read. The headline is usually slightly bigger in font 14 pt. or 16 pt. and the body 12 pt. In some cases the headline is bolded.

Begin the press release with a dateline. This includes city, state/province, date and a dash, and then begins into your lead paragraph. The lead paragraph should be one or two sentences giving the reader basic details on the story and motivate the reader to keep reading. There are two types of lead paragraphs. A summary lead is a few sentences key to what the story is about. A feature lead creates a hook to keep the reader wanting more.

One rule of thumb for a press release is to keep it to four paragraphs, always keep it brief. The first paragraph should include the most important facts, attributions and essential information. The second paragraph could include background information and names of sources. The third paragraph could elaborate on the first paragraph giving the detailed information. The final paragraph should include the most important information in your press release, which would be to contact you for more information. Don't save your best stuff, story wise, to the last. You want to fire your big guns first in order to keep them reading.

Many people think that the sole purpose of the press release is to have it run as the story. That is just not the case. It's true that you want enough information in the release so that it can stand on its own if the reporter is in a hurry or on deadline.

Ideally, your real goal for a press release should be to get the reader to be interested enough to want to follow-up and do a full interview with you. This will usually result in a bigger article or feature story and will often include photos.

Releases are scanned quickly so make sure they don't have too much information that would cause them to end up in the circular file. This is not an exact science, but these key points will give your next press release a fighting chance to stand out among all the others that are competing for attention.

To your success!

Author's Bio: 

David Mason is president of Mason Performance Development Inc., a Speaker, Trainer, Performance Development Coach and internationally best-selling author.

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