If you've never written a press release before, the idea can be a bit intimidating. But you're a writer so you've got this.
There are a few things to keep in mind with press releases. They have their own format that is a little different from what you may be used to. Following the right guidelines here will go a long way toward getting your news published. There are tons of templates online for how to write a press release and I've got a sample at the bottom of this post.
The most important thing to remember is that a press release isn't exempt from the WAM principle. Media outlets are constantly looking for stories, but they aren't looking to give away free advertising. If you want to increase the chances of your release getting picked up, you need to make it a story.
Keep the focus of your piece tight on what the media's audience is looking for. For your list of local media, you'll want to spin your press release as a local celebrity. No, don't call yourself a celebrity. But local people doing interesting things that put them in the public light makes you a bit of a celebrity. Go ahead and own it.
Your release should be written as clean as possible with the opportunity for a local paper to run the release as a story with little to no changes. An editor will be much more likely to run your story if he doesn't have to assign someone to write it. A well written press release that is ready to run is an editor's dream come true.
Do write the release in third person, but make sure that all of your contact information is included at the bottom. This is why it was so important that your website is up, running and easy to navigate with an interesting bio and book info. If an editor decides to give your piece a bit more attention (yeah) you want him to be able to hop on your website and easily find any info he's looking for. This is also why a phone number is crucial. You want to be available if they want a few fresh quotes for the story.
Now it's your turn. Write that press release! Even if you don't have a book coming out yet, write up a sample release for one of your manuscripts. Practice makes perfect!
Here's a sample release for an awesome book that hasn't been written yet. If aliens and unicorns float your boat, the premise is all yours. :)
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Local woman brings a touch of fantasy to the Tri-State.
Jane Smith’s debut novel, SPACE UNICORNS, is a fantastical retelling of My Little Pony set in Ourtown.
Ourtown, State – June 12, 2010 - SPACE UNICORNS (available in bookstores everywhere on August 1st) is a lifelong dream come true for Ourtown native, Jane Smith. After graduating from Ourtown University, Smith channeled her love of books into becoming a popular English teacher at Ourtown High School. Despite her success, she never stopped writing stories of her own. For years, Smith filled notebooks with her fantasy worlds, but it wasn’t until recently she believed anyone would read them but her.
“I was always writing, but never thought any of my stories were good enough to be published. Finding out that other people enjoyed them was a wonderful surprise,” Smith said. On a dare from her husband, Smith sent her novel out to a publisher calling for unicorn stories. Mythical Press loved her unique story telling ability and the rest is history.
SPACE UNICORNS tells the story of three sentient unicorns whose simple life in Ourtown gets turned upside down when aliens mistake them for cows and take them hostage on their mother ship. The unlikely trio is forced to work together to find their way back to Earth or risk becoming permanent fixtures in an alien zoo
Unicorns Weekly says that “SPACE UNICORNS is a must read for anyone who loves unicorns and knows there’s no place like home.” Smith is already working on the book’s sequel, DEEP SEA UNICORNS.
Smith will be at Ourtown Books on August 5th to meet with fans and sign books. To learn more about Smith’s books or other signing opportunities, visit her blog www.alltheprettyponies.com or follow her on Twitter @HornGirl.
For more information about Jane Smith or SPACE UNICORNS, please contact Smith at (123)456-7890 or at HornGirl@ponyexpress.com
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(Just a note. These hashtag marks are a standard notation that indicates the end of your press release. Be sure to use them)