September 30, 2009

Writing a Good Press Release: A Checklist

Who wouldn't want a third-party endorsement of their group coaching program? By getting a news story featured about you and your group coaching program in a media outlet, you will receive implicit endorsement that no amount of money spent on advertisement can match.

As a matter of fact, if you want to put a value on this sort of free publicity, most studies show that a news story is worth at least 3 times more than the same size ad in most publications. Talk about a great value!

But to get that coveted news coverage, you need to use a press release.

It’s a statement prepared for distribution to the media; however it is also a valuable marketing and informative media tool. It is designed to give journalists information that is useful, accurate, and mainly interesting.

There are several specific guidelines that need to be followed in order for it to be published. First, it needs to conform to the established format and aim to have it released without an editor changing any of the content. Your release should read like a news story, not a sales letter or advertisement.

Here’s a seven point checklist to help get you release fit for journalist consumption.

Press Release Checklist

1. Time to be Released - If it is to be released immediately it should be typed on the left margin above the title in bold faced type. If not, then you need to write: embargoed until: and the date you want it released.

2. Headline-Most important part of a release, the headline should grab attention from journalists, and also readers. The headline should be centered, bold, caps, short, snappy, and most importantly impressive, to receive the desired attention.

3. Dateline - Should start main body of text. It’s the City issued from as well as the date.

4. Lede Paragraph - Second most pivotal part of a press release. It should grab attention, and contains the most important information of the release. Think about the inverted pyramid technique, most vital info first and follow up with supporting less important information. In today’s high paced world people will only skim the headline and then maybe the first paragraph; that’s why it essential to relay your most vital information first.

5. Text - This is the main body of your release. It should be written in active voice, passive voice will get your release thrown out. It also helps to have a human interest side to it; this will draw more attention and increase the chances of being published. Quotes are also a good touch.

6. Recap-Reiterate company information, contact person information, and once again address the key points you are trying to pass along. And always end the release with “###” directly below the last line of text, this technically ends the release.

7. Contact Information - Company name, address, web address, phone number, contact person, and number for a contact person that can be easily reached. This should appear at the bottom of the release.

Here are some additional hints to help you create that winning release.

  • Send it to media that is going to be interested; don’t mass mail it to media that won’t care about it.
  • Making it interesting can’t be emphasized enough. Journalists receive countless releases every day; make yours stand out.
  • Don’t hype too much. Editors hate it. Too much hype will be thrown out.
  • Get to know editors and journalists who cover your industry and business in general. Familiarity will help get your release printed; having your name remembered can always help.
  • Make yourself or contact person available and easily reachable at all times to the media, even if your release is not used. This availability, like familiarity, will increase your chances in the future.

Shannon Cherry, Publicity Expert for Group Mastery

Shannon Cherry, Publicity Expert for Group Mastery


Shannon Cherry is the publicity/media expert for Group Mastery, and the founder of Be Heard Solutions. Known as The Power Publicist, she helps coaches, entrepreneurs, consultants and solo professionals attract more clients and customers through the power of publicity.

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