Press Releases – How to Avoid the Rubbish Bin

press release

When writing a press release you can forget all about selling.

A press release is used to deliver news. You are not writing an advert – if you do, the editor is likely to delete it or bin it. They are under no obligation to publish your release because, unlike an advert, you’re not paying for it to be included in their publication.

The editor is looking for a genuine news item that will be of interest to their readers and that will fit the style and tone of their publication or website.

Benefits of press releases

On the plus side, they are relatively cheap to produce. Whether you produce them in-house or if you use an external copywriter, they are a cost effective way of promoting your company.

As they appear as an editorial piece rather than a blatant advert, they are more likely to be read as they’ll have an independent air about them.

The major downside of a press release

Unlike articles, blogs, web copy, brochures etc., you have no control over it once it’s left your hands. The amount of room it is given will depend on pressure within the publication you submit it to. It may be truncated or it may not appear as prominently as you would like.

How to use a press release

They can be used for almost anything. You are announcing to the world something new and interesting that’s happening to your company:

  • A new website launch
  • A new product or service
  • A forthcoming event
  • Charity work
  • Advice
  • Community involvement

And that’s just for starters. But whatever your subject matter it has to be relevant to the audience of the publication. If it’s ‘off topic’ it is unlikely to be published.

How to get your press release ignored

If you want your press release to be ignored all you have to do is:

  • Use a bad subject line in your email such as Press release.
  • Using a bad headline.
  • A long drive to the story – if you waffle at the start of your press release no one will read it.
  • Don’t try to use a disguised advert, it will be spotted. If your press release doesn’t contain a genuine news story it will be binned. Editors aren’t stupid – they will spot your blatant advert a mile off.
  • Use bad English, dodgy spelling and atrocious grammar.
  • Fill it with flowery language, repetitions, waffle and adjectives galore.

How to get your press release published

Before you start, make a plan – what is your story? Why is it interesting? What local angle can you use as a hook?

In other words go for the tried and tested Who? What? Where? When? Why? and How? in your opening paragraph.

Also remember to include its word count, release date and at the end, add contact details, a brief company profile, note for the editor and details of any photo opportunities. And make sure you write it in the third person, using simple language that is short and concise without jargon.

The basic structure of a press release

1. The first thing to remember is to write Press release at the top of your page.

2. Write the date either as 7th November 2010 – For immediate release, or 7th November 2010 – 12.00 15th November 2010.

The first shows it can be used immediately, the second shows it must not be used until the specified time and date.

3. Your headline comes next and should be eye-catching and should grab the editor’s attention straight away.

You can also use a sub heading to flesh out more of the story.

4. Next is the first paragraph. This is critical and must dive straight into your story. Forget hype and adopt a journalistic tone which sticks to the facts.

5. The second paragraph provides supporting evidence and can go into more detail. But make sure it remains focused

6. In the third paragraph you can add a quote or two that are relevant to the story. But make sure you have permission to use them.

7. Your final paragraph is your conclusion which briefly explains the link between the story and your company.

8. Finally end with ‘Ends’ or ###

9. Now you can add notes for editors and contact details.

So that’s how to write a press release in a nut shell. Remember they should only be used for genuine news and are not to be used to overtly advertise or promote your company’s products or services.

Done correctly, press releases can generate a lot of interest in your company; done badly and they’ll only ever see the recycling bin in the editors office.

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#1 Andy Nattan on 11.19.10 at 1:22 pm

Do you think press releases should be sent as an attachment or in the body of an email? It’s the one thing I’m never sure of.

#2 admin on 11.19.10 at 2:00 pm

Hi Andy,

If the press release is sent as an attachment it may be viewed as a potential virus threat and therefore remain unopened. Therefore it’s best to send it in the body of the email.


#3 Patrick Lowman on 11.26.10 at 8:49 am


I would actually do both. Sally is correct if you send as attachment only, it runs the risk of never being opened. However, I would put attachment also, as it makes it simple for filing purposes. A good journalist (I used to be one, well a journalist anyway) often files material to use at a later date, for example when they need an expert for a quote on a specialist topic. So, personally I always do both.

Hope this helps


#4 admin on 11.26.10 at 9:56 am

Thanks for your input Patrick, much appreciated.


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