Here’s the formula I use for these kinds of releases. I call it the 3S approach -- Situation/Surprise/Support.
The first paragraph sets up the situation. The second paragraph reveals the surprise. The third paragraph supports the claim made in the second paragraph.
One very typical 3S is discussing a common problem in the first paragraph (For centuries, people have accepted memory loss as an inevitable result of aging.) The "surprise" paragraph announces the solution to the problem (But one local man says he’s ready to prove the medical establishment wrong.) The "support" paragraph then tells the story. (John Smith, an Anytown entrepreneur, says he’s found the key to retaining a strong memory function far into old age. His "Memory Maker" software is based on ancient Chinese texts that were used more than 2000 years ago to...)
Another 3S -- let’s revisit our mudslide watching friend. How would you start his story using this method?
While John Smith’s colleagues at the National Atmospheric Center are watching the skies for signs of lightning and tornadoes, his attention is focused elsewhere.
John Smith is listening to the mud.
As the Chief Mudslide Analyst at the NAC, Smith spends his days glued to a seismograph, eyes and ears peeled for the telltale signs on an impending slide.
Along with the 3S in action, I also followed the 7th Commandment. That really short second paragraph is a visual grabber, and will keep the journalist reading right into the meat of the release.
9. Thou Shalt Not Bear False Witness. This may seem an obvious point, but it always bears repeating.
Tell the truth.
Don’t inflate, don’t confabulate, don’t exaggerate. Don’t twist facts, don’t make up numbers, don’t make unsubstantiated claims. Any decent journalist will be able to see right through this. If you’re lucky, you’re release will just get tossed out. If you’re unlucky, you’ll be exposed.
It’s a chance not at all worth taking. Make sure every release you write is honest and on the level.
10. Thou Shalt Know Thy Limitations. Not everyone can write a press release. A good feature release, in particular, isn’t an easy thing to craft. If you just don’t feel like you have the chops to get the job done, hire a professional.
One last tip: right before you start writing your release, spend an hour or two reading your daily paper, paying special attention to stories similar in feel to yours. Immerse yourself in how the pros do it and you’ll be in the right frame of mind to tackle the job! To view professional press releases updated daily, go to: http://www.publicityinsider.com and click on the "Press Release Gallery"