Most freelance writers encounter several decision-making points throughout their careers. Although income informs much of said decisions, there’s also the question of diversification. Currently chosen niches might be comfortable, but are they durable? No matter how successful a freelance writer’s been, diversifying is a most certainly a chance worth taking. It means learning more and, subsequently, growing more in both knowledge and creativity.
Diversifying 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.
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.
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.
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:
- 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.
- 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.
- Include the location not only of the press release’s issuer, but pertinent event locations.
- For the main body, include the most important information first, with the least important at the end.
- Finally, the summary is where to mention some brief biographical information about the person/event/company/brand.
Breonna Bergstrom’s blog post for CoSchedule, “How to Write the Best Press Releases with 21 Examples and 7 Templates” provides additional details for inquiring minds. It’s a straightforward process that, when applied correctly, can lead to more freelance writing opportunities.
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