For a lot of people the thought of having to write their own press release is somewhat intimidating. I’m not quite sure how it got that reputation, but honestly it doesn’t have to be that way!

The two most important aspects of press release writing are the format and the content. In the first BLOG From My Little Black Book: Press Release Writing 101, I touched on where you can find a free online template to help you generate press releases in the proper format. Today, I’d like to talk a little bit about the content side – more specifically, the first line.
Writing using the 5 W’s and an H concept…

I’m sure by now you’ve heard of the 5 W’s and an H concept of writing. The 5 W’s are who, what, where, when, and why and the H is for how. This concept should be the guideline for writing your press release. You want to make sure that you identify all of the important facts that fall into these categories in the first line or so of your press release.

You only get one chance at the first impression…

Think of you first line as trying to make a first impression… and we all know how important first impressions are. When it comes to writing press releases, it could make the difference between having your release end up on the top of desk or on the news room floor.

Your first sentence or two of your press release needs to identify only the facts: the who, what, where, when, why and how of your news. It should be totally to the point – clear and concise, skipping the fluff.

Let’s say you were going to write a press release about the release of a new book. So here are the facts that you have to work with: Jane Doe is the writer, she is a local writer, she is an award winning author, her newest book is called “How to Write Press Releases,” Jane is going to appear at the “Book Store” to sign her book and lecture about its content on December 16, 2008 from 6 to 8 p.m.

So what might your first line sound like? Not everyone’s first line will sound the same because everyone has a different writing style. The goal is to incorporate enough of the facts into the first sentence or two, so that the reader would know what the entire piece is about by just reading the first line.

If I were writing the first sentence of this press release it might sound something like this…

Local award winning author, Jane Doe will be at the Book Store on December 16, 2008 from 6 to 8 p.m. to lecture and sign copies of her newest book “How to Write Press Releases.”

After you have written the first sentence, it is smooth sailing from there. You can add more details about the event, quotes from the author, and any other pertinent information in the paragraphs that follow.

The first line may be the hardest to get to sound just right, but from there you should be well on your way to writing the rest of your press release. Just remember to summarize the entire article in that first sentence!

– from the Writer’s Corner Office Desk

More in Business, Marketing, PR, Press Release Writing, Writing
And you can quote me on that….

If you’ve read my introduction page, you know that while attending UMKC I took a journalism course from Pulitzer Prize Winner Bob Unger. I’m starting to see a common theme in that I enjoy referencing my teachers of the past. I guess I just can’t seem to escape the impact that they have had on […]