Marketing: HOWTO write a press release

September 10, 2009 – 12:13 am

Written in part to show a glimpse of process, and in part to allow people who know how to write better press releases to help fix this one.

A press release is a “written or recorded communication directed at members of the news media for the purpose of announcing something claimed as having news value. Typically, they are mailed, faxed, or e-mailed to assignment editors at newspapers, magazines, radio stations, television stations, and/or television networks… the aim of which is to attract favorable media attention… A news release provides reporters with the basics they need to develop a news story.” In other words, it’s one way professional PR folks Spread The Word.

I’m going to illustrate this by example. Ian Weller created a first draft of the “we’re CC-BY-SA licensed!” press release. To see what’s happened to it since, look here, and then read on; here’s how I explained my edits on the mailing list.

I added:

  • The standard “this is a press release!” headers (“FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE”, location/date before the body text)
  • A headline (Fedora Project relicenses content to CC-BY-SA)
  • A boilerplate snip of org info at the bottom, yanked from http://fedoraproject.org/
  • A shiny quote from Ian (this just in from IRC)
  • A contact info section
  • ### at the bottom, which is PRspeak for “end of press release”

The press release above still needs:

  • filling in of contact information at the bottom – Marketing folks, how we want to handle press releases is probably something we want to figure out in general at some point.
  • copyediting (I suck at making sure spelling/grammar/etc is 100% correct; my quick pass usually gets things to 90-95%)
  • more nice quotes from folks like Paul or Eric or Karsten – something like… “This relicensing effort will enable us to $list_of_awesomeness, we’d like to thank $these_people,” said $name, $impressive-sounding-title. “$shiny_media_soundbite!”

Hopefully this helps explain things a bit. For an example of a beautifully finished press release, check out the Fedora 11 press release, which is professionally done, and you’ll see all these elements in there. It’s not magic – it’s just PR. ;-)

<shameless plug> Do you want press release help for your project? Send the Marketing team a ticket! (FAS login required) Do you want to help with press releases? (We can teach you!) Join the Marketing team! </shameless plug>

(Also, thanks and congratulations to everyone who made the re-licensing happen!)

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  1. 2 Responses to “Marketing: HOWTO write a press release”

  2. Remember
    First sentence – Who, what where when and why.

    Rest of the article repeats and expands this.

    Press release worded so it can be copy/pasted into a news article by lazy journalists. Include quotations.

    End with contact details for someone they can talk to plus a url where they can get photos or video.

    Always remember: Journalists are lazy! They love it when you do their job for them.

    By Joe on Sep 10, 2009

  3. Added to https://fedoraproject.org/wiki/Marketing_HOWTO_write_a_press_release – starting to build a repository of marketing materials and knowledge in Fedora.

    By Mel on Sep 13, 2009

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