Press releases are a short form of writing, generally issued by companies and institutions to pass newsworthy information to the correspondent community. The press releases reach the general public indirectly through publishing in newspapers and most commonly by making them available on corporate websites (which is more common nowadays).
There are some general rules for writing a press release, as the press release should be no longer than two pages, should contain logos of lead partners issuing the press release, and the headline and sub-head should be concise. Also, there must be something noteworthy in the lead paragraph which must be news.
A professional-quality press release has six main components:
- Press Release Heading – Write the press release on the letterhead of the library or institution, and make sure to put the following information at the top of the page: Press Release date and your contact information.
- A headline – The heading should be short and “catchy” to grab a reader’s attention. Try to have a format of bold capital letters for the heading and a size slightly larger than the font size larger than the rest of the press release. Write it in the present tense.
- Body copy – The first sentence should state something noteworthy, and the following sentence or two should give additional information. Try to stick to the facts. Use short sentences and keep details to a minimum. People must read just the first paragraph and get a good idea of what is going to happen.
- The five Ws – Who? What? When? Where? Why? –These are the Ws that should be used in every kind of writing. Know the audience, and tell them what is going to happen. When and where? What’s the reason? Why is this newsworthy? Only knowing these can engage the reader to the very end.
- Contact information – Even though the contact information is already at the top, repeat the contact information here also, or add additional information, such as the library’s website or institution’s website if that would be helpful to readers.
- Indicate the end of the press release – According to the reputed American Library Association, the press release should be ending with a sign. Do this by typing three # symbols at the very end, centered, like this: ###
The Hybrid genre of Press Releases
The press releases generally display a typical mix being “informative” and “promotional”, which makes them major examples of what we call “hybrid genres”. This has to do with the communicative purpose(s) of press releases because the notion of communicative purpose occupies a special place in most genre-based approaches to language.
Defining the communicative purpose of the press release is difficult due to the following reasons;
(a) it is multiple, &
(b) the different motives of it are unambiguous
This results in the hybrid nature of press releases, reflected in the light of reporting (news articles) or doing the promotional framework.
Declaring an article as a press release and explicitly showing the company logo and contact details alert the readers as well as the journalists that the communicative purpose is not only limited to telling a genuine news story but also written with an integrated promotional purpose.