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HOW TO: Write The Perfect Press Release

One of the best ways to get free publicity is by writing a press release and sending it to your local media.

The problem is that your local media gets bombarded with press releases day after day and the majority of them end up in the waste basket. So how can you increase the chances of your press release actually making it to print?

Follow these guidelines and more often than not, your press release will turn into a news story that gets you the free publicity you seek.

Write The Perfect Press Release & Get The Publicity You Seek

write the perfect press release

the tips to free press

The Perfect Press Release Example

Over the years, we’ve identified 22 traits that will help your press release stand above the crowd.  Feel free to download the “Perfect Press Release” example at left to follow along as we go over each trait.

Trait #1 – Make sure the organization you belong to is very clear.  Placing this information at the top is a good start.

Trait #2 – If your press release doesn’t contain news, you may as well not even send it.  Promise news at the top with “NEWS RELEASE” in a larger font than the rest of the press release.

Trait #3 – One of the main traits of news is that it is current.  Since you are offering news, make sure it is as current as possible.

Trait #4 – Get the name of the person you are sending your press release to and place it in a prominent position.  Be sure to double check the spelling.

Trait #5 – Provide a specific contact person with a phone number where they can be reached. Don’t make contacting you a challenge.

Trait #6 – It’s important to inform your contact when specifically you’d like your press release to be run.  If you don’t have a specific date, be sure to allow for immediate release.

Trait #7 – Just like your other marketing materials, headlines are a must.  Include a newsworthy angle in your headline for best results.

Trait #8 – Where is your news release being released from?  It’s always best to use a local angle, so try to place the story from a local perspective.

Trait #9 – Try to tell your entire story in the first paragraph.  If everything else is cut, at least you got your main points in.

Trait #10 – Turn the story in a personal angle as soon as possible.  Use quotes from known individuals if possible.

Trait #11 – Use subheads to highlight important parts of your story.  People are busy and only read the parts that interest them, so include subheads for each of your target markets.

Trait #12 – Beware of sexism and humor.  What is funny to some groups may be offensive to others.

Trait #13 – Use quotes from each of your target markets.  Be sure to include quotes from groups that read the publications you have targeted with your press release.

Trait #14 – Use later paragraphs for dispelling or confirming rumors. It’s always best to cover your bases with a little objectivity.

Trait #15 – Include quotes from senior executives to build credibility. News releases are taken a little more serious when the boss’s name is on the line.

Trait #16 – Could the local community perceive your news in a negative manner?  If so, highlight the potential positives.

Trait #17 – If promising a specific future result, be flexible.  Not reaching your specific results on time will always bring bad publicity.

Trait #18 – If space permits, allow your executive to inject some human interest to the story.  Use these quotes as a transition back to a more positive tone.

Trait #19 – Is there an executive that matches the demographics of your target audience?  If so, place them in your target audiences shoes to close the story with added trust.

Trait #20 – The notation “-30″- is the standard way of concluding a press release.  Keep your press release to one page!

Trait #21 – Including photographs is a great way to gain more attention for your story.  Make sure the photos you submit are easily reproducible and will hold their quality in both color and black and white.

Trait #22 – If you have other media you’d like to include or have available, be sure to provide the information here.  The more peripheral media you have available, the easier it is to use your press release in a story.

The most important thing to remember is to include a newsworthy angle that is of interest to the local community or specific readers of the publications you send your release to.  Public relations is ultimately about solving an editor’s need for relevant content that satisfied readers.  By including as many of these traits in your next press release, you will drastically increase the likelihood of gaining some free publicity for your small business.

  1. April 5, 2009

    In section 22, what do you think is the best method of contact to list? Email, phone number or business address…


    • April 6, 2009

      The best method for contact is that which you think or better, know, is the preferred method of contact for the targeted journalist. Try giving them a call first and let them know to expect your press release and be sure to ask them how they would like to reach you. Then add this information in your press release.

  2. April 7, 2009


    Thanks for the tip.

  3. April 9, 2009

    Good article…very useful…Thanks you.

  4. April 13, 2009

    Press Releases are an important part of marketing your company and these tips helped me out greatly. Thank you.

    • April 13, 2009

      You’re welcome. If you ever have time, come back and let us know when your next press release gets published!

  5. June 1, 2009

    I’m a former newspaper editor and can offer the following:
    Discover the style of your editor/publisher and customize your release right down to the quote attribution (some use “says” others use “said”). Every keystroke you save them increases your odds of coverage. Do they use “AM” or “a.m.” when noting time? Don’t use italics, bold or ALL CAPS in the body of your release.
    If you become known as a high-maintenance release sender, yours will end up in a recycling bin.
    Customize and localize whenever possible. Weave the name of the city or county into the subject line of your e-mail. Regional and local newspaper editors will delete anything too broad in scope. Avoid a “broadcast” release at all costs. Even “hidden” lists make an editor feel as though they are just another contact. If they are a weekly publication, you just let them know that all the dailies will run it and they don’t need to bother.
    My recycling bins (both electronic and paper) were filled with poorly written releases sent by deserving organizations. It occurred to me that those were potential clients and I’ve spent the last year increasing their credibility and coverage.
    If you receive coverage with releases breaking any of the rules it is because you are important to the community and the editor may be going to work on Sundays to fix your material (I did).
    We all can make a difference and help the remaining members of the media keep their jobs. We also can influence what ends up in the media by sending news they can use in the format required (radio producers often need five lines or less). Don’t know? Ask!
    Last tip of the day:

  6. June 3, 2009

    Thanks for the terrific comment Heidi. You’ve added some very good ideas that I had not thought of, even as a former newspaper editor myself.

  7. July 25, 2009

    To write the perfect release, it is important to assure that the press release will be important and useful to targeted readers.
    Great and comprehensive list. Thanks for sharing.

  8. August 13, 2009

    Amazing article! Thanks a lot 🙂

  9. September 4, 2009

    Great Tips!

    I`ll add your page to my Stumble Favorites.


  10. February 8, 2010

    I’m using your 22 trait break down as a guide/tool to write my first press release. Wish me luck!

    • February 11, 2010

      Good luck. I think if you follow it and use as many of the points as possible, you’ll do just fine. Let me know how it goes, or if you’d like me to look over your press release before you send it out!

  11. March 28, 2010

    First time that I have seen something like this. Its Great I have put it into my Stumble Favorites.

    Thank for that,

    John in Australia

    • March 29, 2010

      Thanks for sharing John. I appreciate you stopping by.

  12. April 8, 2010

    Very informative, writting a good press release is so very different then writing a good article. You have provided several awesome tips for a successful press release.

  13. April 20, 2010

    This is very helpfull. I’ve heard that a press release is a must but after this article I am getting stared now.

  14. May 10, 2010


    I like your tips, and also Heidi’s comments. Could you comment on the next layer of writing a press release in terms of appealing not just to the editor and the reader, but also to the almighty Google? Writing press releases with SEO in mind can have significant benefits.



    • August 4, 2010

      As with all other SEO, it begins with good keyword research. Simply add some of your keywords throughout the press release and when you are finished, submit your press release to online press release directories and specify those keywords there, as well.

  15. May 11, 2010

    Helpful advice. Some small weekly newspapers have information about what they want on their websites. “The Cameron Herald” is one. I would add that you should check several copies of the publication before you send them anything, to make sure that what you are sending fits them. I wrote for several small newspapers, was a stringer for a couple of dailies, and was cartoonist and writer for another. Worked with experienced editors and beginners where we were all learning. Because of this, I was asked to teach Journalism and Art.

    • August 4, 2010

      Awesome insight, thank you!

  16. May 21, 2010

    great article thanks!

  17. July 23, 2010

    I’m keeping an eye on this and this blog. Especially, as I’m starting out in my study of PR, myself (going into my second year of Advertising and PR major at my school).

    • August 4, 2010

      Great to hear. Best wishes in school!

  18. October 27, 2010

    I think a PR should be user friendly, so it will become SE friendly, too… a good PR should have all ingredients including seo work, demographics, stats and audience in mind.. thanks

    bilal qayyum

    • November 2, 2010

      You make a great point Bilal. In today’s internet marketplace, press release strategies are very effective when crafted for search engine optimization (as opposed to getting picked up by the media) and should be written according to your strategy. Thanks for stopping by.

  19. December 12, 2010

    Great website! I am loving it!! Will be back later to read some more. I am taking your feeds also

  20. July 11, 2012

    Great article! Thanks so much for breaking down the press release!

  21. December 19, 2014

    Thank you Aaron for the beautiful trait wise insights on PR. One doubt I have. Can ever PR be considered as spam? Expecting your kind reply

    • December 19, 2014

      Press releases can definitely be considered spam, especially when they are used for purely SEO search engine optimization purposes. The main thing to keep in mind is to provide value in your press releases and send them only to relevant media outlets.

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