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Anatomy of a Product Press Release
What should be in it, how to write it, and a
by Kindra Foster, Foster Executive Writing & Editing (June
One of the best ways to get the word out about your company’s
new products is sending press releases to industry trade magazines.
Press releases can turn into product profiles, company profiles,
how-to projects and other editorial coverage in national industry
magazines. Because you don’t pay for it, this type of coverage is
considered more credible than advertising. It can add to your
corporate image and lead to more sales.
This article will take you through the five steps of writing a
press release and show you how to format it…it’s easy, but there
are some very important rules to follow. First, let’s talk about
the parts of a release and how to write them. Look for the rules at
the end of the article.
Begin with Core Facts
The format of a press release is just like a news article in a
newspaper. Editors only want to know about things that are news—facts
that people don’t already know. A new product is news. A new Web
site is news. A new page on the Web site isn’t news (it’s small
potatoes), unless it constitutes a new service. A staff promotion is
news, and so is a new building. First, make sure your release
constitutes real news. If you don’t, editors will learn to
overlook releases from your company.
Begin writing the release by telling the core facts: who, what,
when, where, why and how. (Some of you remember this from English or
journalism class!) Tell the core facts in one or two sentences. Show
how the trademark and official product name should be used. This
makes up the first paragraph of the release. See the example below.
(Note: although most of the information in the example
information in this article is accurate, the information is
presented here for demonstration purposes only. For current
information about the ZAZ™ Portable Die Cutter, please call
AccuCut Systems at 800-288-1670 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.)
Dig Deeper into Why
If it’s not immediately apparent why this is an important new
product, you can expand upon the reasons in another one or two
sentences that make up the second paragraph. This amounts to a
description of the benefits of your product. If you include this
paragraph, be sure it’s relevant information and not just fluff.
If it’s not really relevant, skip this one.
Share Enthusiasm through a Quote
Now, move on to an opinion about your product from an
authoritative person—your CEO or product manager, for example.
This is the only part of the release that should include
opinion or promotional-style language. Remember, editors want only
news in a press release. In this case, you are reporting the news of
what this person said. That’s the only reason an opinion quote can
be included in a press release. Enclose the quote within quotation
Now’s The Time for Details
Once you established what the product is and create a little
enthusiasm with a quote from someone in-the-know, you can give all
the details. Keep it as clear and concise as possible. If this
information is published, your prospects will be reading it. What
will they want to know? Those are the same things editors will want
to know. Include size, price, colors available, accessories and a
brief description of how it works: the features of your product.
Tell ‘Em Where to Get It
In the second-to-last paragraph of the press release, tell the
reader how to obtain the product, or more information about it. As
usual, keep it brief!
Close with the Big Picture
Finally, in the last paragraph of your press release, include a
"boilerplate" description of your company—it’s called
a boilerplate because it should be the same description almost every
time you send a release. It’s a way of establishing your position
in the market in a consistent way. Of course, you should update it
as needed, either when your market position changes, or if you need
to remove or add pertinent details, such as a mention of a
prestigious new award you’ve received.
Format of a Press Release
Release timing: At the very top of the page, above the body of
your press release, write the words "FOR IMMEDIATE
RELEASE," or write when this news is available for release:
"FOR RELEASE BEGINNING JULY 1, 2005."
Contact information: In the next line, write the name and contact
information of the person editors should contact for more
information, interviews, product samples and other materials.
Headline: Write a brief, intriguing headline that describes the
main topic. The most effective headlines are two lines long,
including enough information to summarize the release, thereby
making it easy for editors to decide right away whether or not this
is topic for their publication.
Line spacing: Always make line spacing in the release at least a
line and half. Single spacing is hard on editors’ eyes—they read
reams of pages every day!
Paragraph indentation: Although a certain paragraph format is not
required, indenting the first line of each paragraph makes the
entire release easier to scan—and that’s easier on editors, too!
Dateline: At the beginning of the first paragraph, within
parentheses, add the city and state from which the news comes, plus
the date the news is being released. Like this: (Fremont, NE—June
15, 2005). This helps the editor identify the location of the source
and the date of this specific news from your company.
Signal a definite end: Centered at the end of the release,
include either a series of number signs (#######) or the word "—End—"
to make it obvious that there is no more on another page.
If your release spills over onto a second page, type
"MORE" centered at the bottom of the first page, and
indicate the release’s end on the second page.
Reminders: The Five Main Rules of Press Releases
Congratulations! You’re at the end of the press release writing
process. It’s not difficult! Just tell it like it is. Before you
get ready to write your release, keep these important rules in mind.
Rule #1: Make it brief. Write no more than one page, if
possible. If you honestly need more than one page to tell the story,
it’s okay to have a second page.
Rule #2: Stick to the facts. Do not include opinions about
how great the product is, except in a quote from an authoritative
Rule #3: Use concise, clear language. This does two things: 1)
makes it less likely that your product will be reported
incorrectly; and 2) makes the editor happy and more likely to
use the release or parts of it exactly the way you wrote it!
Rule #4: Tell the truth. Make sure the information in your
releases is true and correct—every time. Editors will come to know
they can count on you for accuracy, and they will be more likely to
use your material.
Rule #5: Add life to your words. When you are writing the
release, allow yourself to feel your own excitement about your new
product. Your feeling will come through in the words of the release.
Excitement is contagious, so editors will catch your enthusiasm and
be more likely to publish the information. Readers will be more
likely to buy…and that’s the goal!
SAMPLE PRESS RELEASE
(Note: This sample press release had to be adjusted to be
loaded onto the CLN website.)
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: First-Name Last-Name, 800-288-1670 or email@example.com
AccuCut Introduces One of Industry’s Smallest Die Cutting
Machines with New Technology that Allows 1,000 Cuts
(Fremont, NE—June 15, 2005) AccuCut, makers of hand-operated
roller die cutting systems for the crafts and education industries,
unveiled a new handheld die cutting machine this week at the Craft
and Hobby Association (CHA) tradeshow in Chicago. The ZAZ™
Portable Die Cutter provides a number of versatile cutting and
The ZAZ cutter uses new die cutting technology. It’s the only
die cutter on the market that can be picked up and rolled along any
flat surface. Also, unlike other small die cutting machines, the ZAZ
machine includes a High Performance Cutting Mat that makes it
possible to cut as many as 1,000 shapes or letters without changing
"AccuCut offers the largest die cutting machine on the
market with the GrandeMARK™ machine, so I love the idea that we
also offer one of the smallest," said CEO XXXXX XXXXX.
"The ZAZ cutter is easy and fun to use—there’s no squeezing
The ZAZ Portable Die Cutter measures 4 ¾ x 5 x 4 inches and
weighs 1 lb. 7 oz. It is available in four different colors: Plum
Crazy, Tickled Pink, Out of the Blue and Green with Envy.
To cut with the ZAZ die cutter, the user inserts a wafer-thin
metal die, paper and the revolutionary new high performance cutting
mat into the cutter on top of a cutting platform, then grasps the
handle and rolls the machine along a tabletop to draw the die and
paper through. Die-cut shapes emerge from the other side of the
tool. The cutter works with any wafer-thin metal die on the market,
including AccuCut’s own Zip’eCuts™ and Zip’eClear™ dies,
and Zip’eSnaps™ One-Step Emboss & Cut Dies. The machine also
embosses with brass stencils.
Consumers can find the ZAZ Portable Die Cutter in their local
independent craft and scrapbooking stores and at www.accucut.com.
Retailers: for more information about this product, contact AccuCut
Systems at 800-288-1670.
AccuCut Systems was established in 1990 as a provider of shape
and letter cutting products for retail craft stores, professional
designers, craft enthusiasts and the educational market. The company’s
focus is on making craft and educational experiences fun and
rewarding. AccuCut is a multi-winner of the Creating Keepsakes
magazine’s Readers’ Choice Award for best die cutting equipment,
and the Primedia Award of Excellence. Visit AccuCut online at www.accucut.com.
# # # # #
(Note: Kindra is President of Foster Executive Writing
& Editing and has many years of experience do marketing and
public relations in the industry, particularly in scrapbooking. To
contact Kindra, call 402-325-0457; fax 402-325-6757, or email
Kfoster2@neb.rr.com. Vendors: To read Kindra's advice on maximizing
the publicity you receive from your trade show exhibit, click on
"Vinny Da Vendor.)