Writing and Formatting a Press Release for E-mail Distribution.
The definitive style guide to the correct format for e-mail news releases based on feedback from journalists and reporters.
A conventional 'hard copy' press release is a brief document generally one to three double-spaced type written pages announcing news about your company, product or service to media professionals.
E-mail press releases are usually shorter in length than their print counterparts. The majority of electronic news releases sent are 500 words of text organised into five, short two to three sentence paragraphs.
E-mail software allows the user to set limits on the size of messages it will download. Since many individuals do not change the default limit on their e-mail software, long messages can be truncated. For this reason we would discourage you from sending extremely lengthy electronic news releases.
Information such as photographs, biographies of company executives, white papers and other supporting documents usually included in a printed media kit may be published online where reporters may access them easily at their convenience.
If your company, for example, has completed an online survey of Internet shoppers, include a brief overview of the results in the electronic press release then follow that paragraph with the URL or home page address where complete survey results are published. The URLs for screen shots of your Web site and products may also be included in the news release.
Some reporters have limited online access. As a courtesy, always include a contact method for reporters who prefer to have materials mailed to them by conventional means.
Sending photographs and supplemental information files through e-mail attachments is not acceptable when contacting a reporter.
Information to Include in a News Release
Electronic PR does not differ from conventional PR in that one's ability to write and organise information well is rewarded with press coverage. However, the one-two punch of a creative subject header for your message and a clever "spin" to your news rings extra loud in a crowded inbox.
Many journalists respond to clever writing and news releases that describe how a new product or service is a solution to a business or consumer problem.
Pointing to a new business, consumer or health trend is another way to position a story.
Another popular method for obtaining press coverage is to ride piggy-back on a breaking news story by alerting the media to your client's expertise on that particular subject.
Like the Rolling Stones say, "Time is on your side." Be prepared to act fast if you sense a PR opportunity. Time the sending of your news release right and you can receive a windfall of publicity.
In 1998, a company had the good fortune to be the only company delivering the Starr Report by e-mail using a proprietary technology for which the recipient paid to read the document. Many may remember the Starr Report was first published online. While individuals jammed Web sites attempting to read the document, this company offered the only alternative to the congestion. Following the distribution of a press release the company received thousands of requests for delivery and a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to showcase their product. Electronic press release delivery is an excellent tool when a story has a limited shelf-life and or when a news window will be open only for a limited time.
How to Format a Release
Don't trust your word processing program to catch errors in grammar and spelling. Have a few individuals read the release before sending it to a reporter or news agency. Although an Xpress Press staffer reads through each release, a number of stories each day contain obvious errors like the omission of an e-mail address for the press contact.
Additionally, remember that press releases are sent by e-mail and not everyone uses the same software. For that reason do not use HTML tags, bold type or colour text which may not transmit consistently across all computer platforms.
When to Send Your News