Press releases are predictable.
Although original ideas occasionally slip through the net, they generally follow the same pattern:
- Headline. Should, but often doesn’t, include the most important or newsworthy point.
- Optional second deck. Another chance to miss making the most important point. It can add facts to the headline.
- Opening paragraph. A good press release encapsulates the entire story in the first paragraph. Some do. Half the time it will claim the company is a leader or even a world leader in its field.
- Banal first quote. Almost inevitably the first quote is from the most important person at the company paying for the press release – possibly the person who signs off the public relations invoice. As a rule the first quote is instantly forgettable – most editors will immediately strike a line through it. It will generally be a variation on the theme of “we are so damn clever”, “we worked hard” or “we’re better than everyone else”.
- Optional, press releases often use the third paragraph to waffle about something of no interest to any sane person.
- Facts. If you’re lucky, the next few paragraphs will include facts. Don’t hold your breath.
- Quotes. Next come quotes where people are in danger of saying something worthwhile or interesting – note this is also optional.
- Partners. The press release then moves on to quotes from people who have important business relations with the company paying for the release. They can be interesting, but I wouldn’t bank on it.
- Important stuff. If the press release is about a product, there may be price and availability details at this point. On the other hand there may not.
- Ridiculous big noting. Press releases often end with unrealistically positive paragraphs explaining how the company would like the rest of the world to see it.