Writing a press release is one of the best ways to spread the word about you and your business. But how do you go about it and what do you need to include?

If you want to tell the world about your new Which? Trusted Traders endorsement, we've put together a downloadable template to make it easy for you. Read on for more general advice about writing a press release.

1. Make sure the story is newsworthy

Think about the audience you are trying to reach. What media sources are they likely to use - TV, radio, print, online? What kinds of story are most likely to catch their attention? You and your audience may not be interested in the same topics. For example, a change of staff might be big news for your business but it is probably not going to hit the headlines anywhere else. Ask yourself honestly if anyone will really care.

Media outlets are more likely to be interested in stories about your business if it adds something to the area, is about something new or has something unusual or exciting about it. Charity work and human interest stories are often popular for this reason.

2. Get the headline right

Headlines should be short and clear. Their purpose is to communicate what the article is about. It should be engaging but always go for clear description over clever wordplay. While it is tempting to go for something fun and smart – it is more important to be clear about what the story is about. 

3. Get straight to the point

The first paragraph should outline what the rest of the press release is about. Bear in mind that a journalist reading your press release should be able to immediately understand what the release is about. They will receive press releases all the time. If they don't understand what your story is about from the headline and first paragraph, they're unlikely to use it.

The first paragraph should work as a summary of the news you want to tell your audience. It needs to grab their attention and give them an idea of what the rest of the story is about. Think about the 5 Ws:

- Who is it about?

- What has happened? 

- Where?

- When?

- Why?

4. Keep it concise

The ideal length is no more than one side of A4, or about 300-400 words. That is no more than 2-3 paragraphs and one or two quotes.

The style of writing should be neutral and detached from the story so it reads as impartial and professional. Avoid jargon, clichés and complicated phrases. Nobody ever complained that something was too simple to read.

Avoid putting business information or contact details in the main body of your press release. These should go in the ‘Notes to Editors’ at the bottom.

5. Add quotes to illustrate your story

Including quotes in your press release is important and helps inform your readers of the opinion of those involved in the news story. They should not be used to give the main piece of information but insight or opinion on it.

Ensure quotes are written in straightforward, everyday language. Don’t use technical vocabulary or jargon – quotes need to sound like they’ve been made by a human being.

5. Include contact information in your press release

Always include some contact details on your press release so that if a journalist needs more information they can get in touch with you easily. The ‘Notes to Editors’ section at the bottom of a press release is the place to put these. This is also where you should put any more detailed information about your business that you think could be useful to the journalist.

6. Add a picture to your press release

Always include a photo if you can. Make sure it shows you or your business in a positive light and reinforces the story you want to tell. It might be that a publication will not use much of the wording but will run your photo – so you need it to work hard for you and tell the story too.

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