The Art of Crafting Press Releases People Might Actually Read

Social media is great for getting the word out to your customers on seasonal sales and inventory additions. But the most effective way to reach media professionals with big news—think store openings, designer collaborations, and trunk shows—is by emailing a well-crafted press release. 

That’s why we asked Helena Krodel, an executive with New York City boutique public relations firm, Studio PR, to walk us through the finer points of writing a press release with real punch. A 10-year veteran of the jewelry, fashion, and luxury goods industries, Krodel is also a former spokesperson for Jewelers of America. Below, her top tips for getting your press releases read.

JCK: What are some common mistakes people make when writing press releases?

Helena Krodel: Making the copy subjective is completely incorrect. It should be all about the facts. There shouldn’t be any opinionated information or anything leading. It should be simple facts that you want to relay to the media about your store, your event, and anything that is newsworthy. Also, dumping too much information in the release that isn’t relevant to the actual event is not effective.

JCK: What would you consider newsworthy for a jewelry retailer?

HK: Having a designer come to your store, unveiling a new collection or grouping of product, having a particular holiday-based event or having something that is exciting like an anniversary. I don’t think I would do a press release about a seasonal sale.

JCK: What’s the most important component of writing a press release?

HK: Whether you’re sending your release to a reporter or an editor, you must know that particular media before you start pitching away or sending a press release. You should read it a few times before pitching. And you have to truly know in your heart that this is something they would cover, that this is a service to them. If it is, you are doing them a tremendous favor.

You need to do some prep work before sending a press release. Ask yourself, A) Is the subject newsworthy?; B) Is it appropriate for that specific editor?; and C) Is it timely for them?

JCK: What elements should a press release always include?

HK: In the very first paragraph you should tell the reader who is involved, what’s happening and the date. People tend to lead with the extraneous. You need to capture them in the first one to three sentences. Think about the five Ws: who, what, where, when, and why. The “why” is the news. When I’m writing a press release, I always think to myself, Why should I care? And if there’s no “why,” you shouldn’t be writing a press release. Your contact information should be on the top right, flush right, under the logo—which should be centered. And flush left under the logo should be the words For Immediate Release.

JCK: How would you recommend telling your story without sounding braggy or pushy?

HK: Braggy press releases are like that annoying neighbor you run into and all they can talk about is how fabulous their children are. It just turns you off. So err on the cautious side and just present the facts. If you have a one-of-a-kind piece, just say that. You can brag through the facts.

JCK: How long should a press release be?

HK: One page, usually three paragraphs. Remember that people can call and email with you to follow up if they have any more questions.

JCK: What’s your rule on font selection?

HK: I always tell people, “The simpler the better.” Differentiate yourself with photos and your logo, not with your font. Stick to the simple, unless you have a very savvy design company who created your own font for you. People like to see what’s familiar to them.

JCK: How early should you send a press release prior to your event?

HK: National magazines have a lead time of about three months; regional magazines that are relevant to your community need one month; with newspapers it’s typically about a week. With the Internet it can be as short as a day or up to a week, depending on the writer and the event.

JCK: Is it appropriate to follow up a press release with a phone call?

HK: The follow-up call is pretty much dead, unless you have a bite. A bite would be an editor who tells you he or she wants more information. Please don’t call to say, “I’m just checking if you got my press release.” Editors hate that. Technology is pretty reliable—if you haven’t heard back, it’s likely they’re not interested.

JCK: Are there any resources for retailers looking to write press releases and find contacts for media professionals?

HK: They can join Jewelers of America, which can give them a template for a press release, along with contacts for their local media. And you can always call and ask for the email of an editor—I wouldn’t ask for phone numbers. Call the magazine and say, “I’m sorry, I don’t have this information and I would like to obtain it. Would you mind giving it to me?” Simple as that.