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Anatomy of a Product Press Release

What should be in it, how to write it, and a model.

by Kindra Foster, Foster Executive Writing & Editing (June 20, 2005)

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 info@accucut.com.)

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 marks.

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 person.

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 xxxx@accucut.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 embossing features.

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 the mat.

"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 or pressing."

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.)

xxx

 

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