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In this series on productivity, author Jess Stratton takes you through the latest tools that will help you run your business and life more efficiently. Each installment covers a particular feature or technique in a different online tool, such as Google Apps, Skype, YouTube, Mint.com, Etsy, and more. Learn about topics ranging from recording and publishing video chats to managing your finances online.
Note: Monday Productivity Pointers is currently on a break, but stay tuned for new tutorials!
My name is Jess Stratton and welcome to Monday Productivity Pointer. I told you how to write a letter of recommendation in a previous video. Well, today, I'm switching to tell you about another common letter you may have to write one day, a press release. This is just a good skill to have in general, which is why I felt compelled to sneak one into a Monday Productivity Pointer. A press release is a document with a very specific format to be sent to news outlets as a way to get announcements out to media sites, such as online web sites and even local newspapers and local news channels.
So, knowing why one would send a press release is key to being able to write a good one. Here's something to keep in mind before you start. A reporter gets lots of stories coming in all the time from all different places. Like non-profits and neighborhoods and schools. Your sole job in writing a press release is to make it as easy as possible for them to run your story. And grab their interest, so the reporters feel like they have to talk to you to find out the rest of the story. That's why you're doing this.
Now I did call it a story. I did that to help you realize that a press release is about a newsworthy event. You need to make it as compelling and exciting as possible. It's really not just about an announcement that you have, or an ad. So a list of features that your product contains isn't newsworthy. So it's about making the reporter interested enough to find out more and to contact you about it. So you have to actually find a way to turn that announcement into an actual newsworthy story. Try to feel like you're doing the reporter's work for them.
Find the value in your announcement. Why would people want to know this? So let's dive in and just like the recommendation letter, we're going to start with the structure. Because knowing the structure of how to put it together is half the battle. So you do need a data release at the top, so when the news can be made public and most cases you can just write, for immediate release, because whenever you send it out to them they can use it. You also need to worry about length. Your press release should fit comfortably on one page The next thing it needs is some contact information and we will put this at the bottom of the page and I'll show you that, but you also need good contact information right at the top.
Now the most important thing that needs is a really compelling headline. This is where you turn your announcement into news. So for my example, I have a newsworthy headline of, the top gadgets parents are asking for this holiday season. Again the first few sentences here are key. It's important to know that if the first few sentences of your press release aren't read, you can be 100% sure that the rest of it won't be read either. So, don't hold back any key information in that first paragraph.
Get it all out as quickly as possible and leave the rest of the paragraphs for supporting information. So, here's my first paragraph. I have one quick sentence. Is your favorite gadget on the list? Technology coach Jess Stratton has compiled a must-have list of gadgets to make the lives of busy parents easier. So, now I've told them who I am, and what I've done, and why I've done it. It's me. I've compiled a list of gadgets, and I've done it to make the lives of busy parents easier. And I got that all out right in the first sentence.
Now, in the next paragraph, I can put some supporting information, such as maybe some key things that are on the list itself. While it's not necessary, a quote in a press release is helpful, and it also does lend a more newsworthy feel to a release. The final paragraph can be a small boilerplate with information about the company. Which is helpful for reporters to know. Who's actually involved, what the company is, and who's actually submitting this press release anyway? So here's my boiler plate, way down at the bottom.
It's just some basic information about the company. Now always include a, For More Information section. Here's mine. For additional information, your contact name, a phone number and email address. So remember, make it easy for the reporter. Your story can't get run if there's no way to get in touch with you. This is why, in the For Additional Information section, it's very important to include an actual contact, not just a generic company phone number with no name attached to it.
So, if you have to write a press release, now you'll know how. You can just rewatch this video, and remember, the most important thing is to make your announcement newsworthy
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