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The Headline. And when to use a Subhead.

Of the 5Ws, the headline is the most important. When creating the headline, make it effective. Use this guide: Be Informative; Keep it Short; and Make it Relevant.

It’s ok to be creative, but not so much that it sounds like an ad, or too creative that it sounds untrue. Don’t mislead or make false claims.

Headline Examples

“Incredible Technology Boosts Mileage For Diesel Engines”. This is too sensational. Is the technology really incredible? What is the amount of the Boost? And is the technology new?

Stay away from headlines such as, “Limited Time Only! Amazing Deals On Step Ladders From The RV Ladder Store! Only $299!”

Although extreme, this does happen. Businesses get excited about their sales, or discounted products thinking it’s newsworthy.

Headlines should be 60-80 characters. Use a subhead to further explain the news. Subheads have added information to support the headline and not intended to be a stand-alone title. Here is an example.

Headline: “New York Couple Wins a Yamaha Quad at the Charity RV Show Last Month”

Subhead: “This is the first time Bill and Kathy Jones entered a contest and won”

Headline tips:

  • Make the headline impossible to ignore. Keep away from false claims and over sensational words.
  • Create interest so the journalist will want to continue reading the release.
  • Check for spelling errors. This is critical. Don’t just rely on spell check, proof read your headline for accuracy and clarity. Have someone else also proofread.

Body of the release

The opening paragraph should be concise. Use the 5Ws in this section. Keep the first few sentences short and to the point. The next paragraphs should fully explain the purpose of your release. Keep it informative. If you use quotes, they should be from someone prominent or important to the company.

End the release with “For more information, visit https://www.yourwebsite.com, or call Tim Daly at (555) 555-1111.

The boilerplate is a short paragraph that explains the identity of the company and what it does.

When to submit your release

As a general rule, Monday is a very busy media day and Friday reporters are usually finishing up stories. Wednesday and Thursday are typically good days to send your release. Tuesdays are also good. No matter what day you choose, always send releases before 9 am Eastern Time.

SEO Press releases

Yes, even press releases should be optimized. When not sending your release directly to a journalist, but to online news, using keywords and phrases will increase your rankings. Choose specific wording your customers type when they search for your type of product or service. The Internet can help you reach your target customer. In this case, your release becomes a mini webpage. Don’t “stuff” too many key phrases into the release. Stick to the guidelines we discussed, just optimize it. Include a photo(s) or video when possible. This will increase visibility and rankings.

Use the media that offers wide reach, on-line releases


If you are a pr pro, or in the publicity industry, you need to make sure that you are using all the resources available.

This means print, broadcast and of course, on-line.

Writing releases for the mass media, such as the print industry, requires information for the editor to feel it is newsworthy. This we already know. One important point is to make the release fit that industry. Sometimes its revising one or two paragraphs to make the release more appropriate to that readership.

Now lets move to on-line.

While print releases can be two to several pages long, on-line releases should not exceed 800 words. Actually it should be closer to 650 words or less. Don’t go the opposite and write something only 400 words.

As much as readers on the net like short reads, we want to feel that the information has value and content and was beneficial to us.

Keep the on-line source as part of your media mix when distributing press releases.

Another critical secret in on-line releases is to embed, or provide links. This cannot be done with other media outlets like broadcast and print. Don’t go crazy with links on every sentence, and make sure these links are support for the release.

The next step is to distribute the releases. Use a service that you know can handle on-line distribution as well as traditional. Some of these companies are PRNewswire, Bacon’s, and Business Wire. Also, remember to add the releases to your own web site.

One more thing you need to make sure you are doing to get the most of a release. In your web site, create a navigation button titled newsroom, pressroom, or something similar. Place the releases, and/or stories published in that section. Now you have an additional on-line presence with your releases.

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