A good press release is a cost-effective way to share your message and earn media coverage. Afterall, press releases are the bridge between organizations and their publics, with the media as a key conduit. This resource in every PR professional’s media relations toolkit performs best when it’s creative, strategic and straightforward.

1. Find your story

What do you need your audience to know? That’s your story. Whether it’s updating a community on recent organizational changes, raising awareness about an upcoming event or fundraising for a good cause, refine your message and spread the word.

2. Know your audience

With your story in mind, it is time to determine which media should receive your message. This will help you determine whether it’s best to reach out to the local paper, broadcast station or internal newsletter. Whatever the case may be, it is important to focus on very specific audiences.

3. Think of a newsworthy angle

Journalists, editors and producers are busy people. Save them some work by doing the heavy lifting for them. With a clear purpose and well-developed topic, your story is more likely to be picked up. Write your release in a creative way that will capture the media’s attention and be relevant to your audience. That is what editors will share.

4. Important stuff on top

If the media professional reading your release only kept the top paragraph, you have to make it count. So get to the point. Begin your release with the who, what, where, when and why before anything else.

5. Back it up

Details matter. Now that the necessities have been addressed, add supporting information, data and quotes to back up your main point. This can run anywhere from two to five strong body paragraphs to expand your message. It is also essential to add a summary boilerplate at the end of your release. Interested writers will want to know more about the organization in a nutshell.

6. Write with purpose

Engage your audience by utilizing active voice and, when appropriate, use descriptive language to strengthen your release. Don’t be afraid to get artistic and paint a picture. Before wrapping up, include a clear call to action that directly states what you want your audience to do.

7. Think outside the box

While written press releases are a standard PR tool, there is no rule stating that’s the only approach to media relations. Get creative with your approach. Video press releases are another way to capture the people’s attention and get your message across.

8. Who you gonna call?

You want to get a call or an email back after sending your release out, so be sure to include your contact information. While this may be a given, it’s easy to overlook in the press release writing process.

9. Consider the headline

While writers have differing approaches to drafting headlines, best practice is to write this copy last. After you have crafted your release, top it off with a clever headline. It grabs the attention of your audience and gets them invested before the first sentence.

10. Hit send

After you have perfected your press release, you’re going to send it out. For maximum pick up, it’s always best to identify the specific media contacts you would like to receive your release and include a personalized message to each journalist.

Congratulations, you’re now ready to draft a textbook press release.

What do you think of our press release guide? Though writing is subjective and there isn’t only one way to craft a release, these best practices can guide you to better writing and media relations habits.

Interested in learning more about our public relations capabilities? See related work here.

Tracy Wolf is an assistant account executive at Franco. You can reach her at wolf@franco.com.