So you’ve done your research, crafted your headline and subhead. Now it’s time to write the body of the news release. Here are some tips.
Write a lede (“lead”) that tells the complete story.
Releases need to include the most important facts – the “who,” “what,” “when,” “where,” “why” and “how” – preferably in the first paragraph. This is not always possible (especially with technical subjects) and the “how” and “why” are sometimes inferred, but it is still a good goal.
Here are some tips:
- Imagine that you’re telling a friend the news. Write down what you would say. That is your lead (or at least the start of your lead).
- Include your keywords and URL in your lead.
- Make your lead short.
- Use strong verbs.
- Avoid quotes in the lead unless you’re quoting someone important (e.g., the President).
- As with the headline, avoid the word “announced.” Your lead will be stronger. “ABC Company today announced its XYZ battery, which lasts 25 percent longer than competitive products” is weaker than the alternate version, “The new XYZ battery from ABC Company lasts 25 percent longer than competitive products.”
- If possible, start your release with your benefit statement. For example, building on the example above, the release might state that “Organizations can stay ‘powered up’ 25 percent longer with the new XYZ battery from ABC Company.”
Here are some real examples.
“Construction Communicator (www.ConstructionCommunicator.com) enables architects, engineers, contractors and construction managers to track the up-to-date information they need to move a project forward quickly.”
“Information about the Northern California summer camps accredited by the American Camp Association (ACA) is available now at www.ACAnorcal.org.”
Use a feature lead if your subject warrants it.
Consider a feature lead, which the Associated Press says “draws in the reader through imagery, narrative devices, perspective or other creative means.”
Feature leads can make you stand out in the crowd. It’s estimated that about 15 percent of releases start this way. The Associated Press sends a feature lead in addition to a news lead to its subscribing publications.
Feature releases can be lighter than standard news releases, more like the first paragraphs you’d see in the features section of the newspaper. For example, a straight news release might say: “Tests show the new tax-preparation software from Numbers, Inc. (www.NumbersInc.com) cuts tax-preparation time in half.” A feature release might start out with: “Taxpayers will not have to work as long this year, thanks to the new tax-preparation software from Numbers.”
Here is an example of a real feature lead:
“Design engineers can dramatically lower costs and maintain quality by buying generic component products, according to Jameco Electronics (www.jameco.com), a distributor of electronic components.”
As an exercise, you might want to go to a wire service (e.g., www.BusinessWire.com, , www.marketwire.com, www.PRNewswire.com and www.PRWeb.com) and read the headlines and leads of the releases they distributed.
I’ll discuss writing the body of the release next. In the meantime, I’d love to learn if you find this information helpful.