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Black Letter Communications Blog

Expert pr advice for the legal sector

How to write a press release

For those unversed in journalism or legal PR the prospect of writing a legal press release can seem like a gargantuan task. But in reality, if you follow a few simple pointers you should be able to produce a press release that sends out the message you are looking to get across and get the coverage you desire.

What is a press release?

Put simply a press release is any official statement, announcement or case study – such as a client story – that is sent to the media. The idea is to provide information so that a journalist will use it and get whoever is releasing the information media coverage for that press release. But for a press release to work it has to answer the questions that a journalist needs. Journalists always seek to answer the questions who, what, where, why when and how? Now, it is not always possible to answer all of these, but you should seek to do so when writing a press release.

How do you write a press release?

You have to remember that a press release has a particular style that is very different to a legal report, judgement or even a blog. As such you need to stick to a basic press release template. The best way of getting your press release used is to write it like a news story.

Journalists use what is called the inverted pyramid style of writing, where the most important information is at the top and the least important at the bottom. The idea is that if you cut the story from the bottom up, it would not matter as you have the most important information at the top. What you are really trying to achieve is sum up the story in the first paragraph, or the intro. The idea is to grab the attention of the journalist or news editor. If you don’t do that in the first paragraph then they are unlikely to read the rest of the press release. It is also crucial that this is not too long. Try to keep your intro to less than 30 words and make it punchy, pithy and interesting.

It’s also important to remember to write for your audience. Don’t forget that non-lawyers don’t necessarily understand legal terms and may not care about individual Acts or legal protocols. Avoid using legalese at all costs and write in lay terms.

What else do you need?

Another way to grab the attention of the reader is to put a headline on your press release. This should be in larger letters than the body text and should attempt to summarise the story. It is also a good idea to put in some quotes from a spokesperson for your company and, if the story is about an individual such as a new starter press release or a client case story, then include some quotes from them. These should be good sound bites that a journalist will want to use and should add something to the story. If the quote is boring and doesn’t add to the story they won’t be used.

Make sure that your firm is mentioned in the body of the text. This maximises the chance of getting your firm mentioned.

Finally, don’t forget to put the contact details of whoever wrote the press release at the bottom so that if a journalist has any questions they will know who to call. If you follow these steps you will be on your way to creating a press release that could see your firm get the coverage it desires.