Anyone that has heard of the cult film The Princess Bride will almost certainly be familiar with some of the film’s most iconic lines:
“Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.”
If not, there are countless recreations of this famous moment in film and television alike…
But what does this have to do with PR and press releases?
Well, if you break this quote down into its four component parts, you can begin to see a structure that can easily be used for writing engaging press releases, as follows.
Hello. A simple and effective way of getting your conversation started.
Greetings and first impressions are just as important to press releases as they are to any other conversation. They need to be polite, bold and grab your reader’s attention. Therefore, while hello would be a perfect way to start an email or in-person conversation, you’re going to need a little more than that for your press release greeting.
Therefore, your press release greeting needs to be your company logo, standing at the top of the page and representing your company immediately.
Underneath this (and your release date), you will need an eye-catching headline. Usually written in large or highlighted type, this can be the make or break of your press release, so make sure that it says exactly what you need it to say!
Your logo and header should stand out enough to be pulled from the pile of hundreds sent to the press every day. Equally, it needs to be simple and professional – centred at the top of the page.
“My name is Inigo Montoya.”
In your first paragraph, you have your chance to introduce yourself. Much like Inigo Montoya, you must tell the reader what your story is and why you’ve chosen to release this information now.
You will also need to consider who your audience is, where your story fits in the media, how you will put your story together and when the best time to release this information would be.
“You killed my father.”
Your second paragraph is where you get to tell the reader what your big-picture story is. You can give them relevant information on the background of your company etc. but keep it brief. If your press release goes over to a second page of A4, you’re writing too much! Keep it short, snappy and simple.
“Prepare to die.”
Your final paragraph should include something punchy and quotable – something that the press can put directly to print. It should be natural sounding, not forced like advertising material, but it needs to encompass everything you want to say.
And finally, you should write a conclusion – wrap everything up, leaving the reader knowing everything they need to know. Add anything you may have left out in the previous chapters, but again, keep it simple and to the point.
Although this isn’t part of the Princess Bride quote, it is important to remember that you need to write “Ends” or “###” at the end of your press release. This ensures that the reader knows that it is the complete press release.
In addition to this, you should take this opportunity to add your email address and phone number for the press to contact you – without this, you’re likely to be overlooked! You can also add editor notes that include your social media links/website/etc.
Much of this post was written with the help of the Friends of the Earth ‘Writing a Press Release’ page.