What Should Freelancers Know About Writing a Press Release?

There comes a time in the careers of most freelance writers when they have to make a decision as to whether or not they want to break out of their current niche and diversify. No matter how successful a freelance writer’s been, diversifying is a chance worth taking. It means learning more and, subsequently, growing more in both knowledge and creativity.

Diversification also means keeping track of the writing market – what’s in one day/month/year might be gone just as quickly with one swift change of a search engine algorithm (SEO articles dying a slow death, for example). However, it’s probable that press releases are here to stay, and freelancers should at least have a working knowledge of what they are and how to write them.

The What

A press release is basically a piece, no more than 2 pages long (and often much shorter than that – sometimes even just a paragraph) that informs the press (as its name implies) about breaking news. The general public usually learns the same information once material from the original press release is used in subsequent news articles.

The Why

Press releases usually center around people and events associated with entertainment and politics. They’re also sometimes used by those in various aspects of the business industry as a means of promotion through media attention.

The How

Freelance writers with little to no background in journalism might find it a relief to know that there’s a general format to follow – it’s more a matter of adhering to that with the correct and relevant information than anything else:

  1. The title/headline should be approached much like the first sentence of any novel, article, or post in that it has to immediately grab the reader’s attention. Furthermore, a press release is of no value to the media unless it’s about something that the general public will have a pointed emotional or intellectual response to.
  2. Contact information comes next, be that an email address or phone number, according to the issuer’s preference (often the press secretary). The media tends to use that information to follow up regarding additional quotes, etc.
  3. Include the location not only of the press release’s issuer, but pertinent event locations.
  4. For the main body, include the most important information first, with the least important at the end.
  5. Finally, the summary is where to mention some brief biographical information about the person/event/company/brand.

Not so difficult, is it? Be sure to read Breonna Bergstrom’s blog post for CoSchedule: “How to Write the Best Press Releases with 21 Examples and 7 Templates” for additional details.

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