Crafting effective press releases: Opening paragraph
The opening paragraph is arguably the second most important part of your press release, falling short only to the headline. In the world of media, these 20 to 40 words can be the make or break of any media release. So, what should you consider when crafting your opening paragraph?
Leading with the key takeaway
Unlike traditional pieces of content, a media release should start with the most important information first and taper down with less important content further on.
This method, often referred to as an inverted pyramid, gives time-poor journalists a chance to take in the news value of a story without having to read through the whole release.
The five W’s (and an H)
When it comes down to crafting your opening paragraph, keep in mind that the reader should come away with a clear understanding of what the release is about. The simplest way to accomplish this is to ask the 5 W’s (and an H) - who, what, where, when, why, and how.
These six questions should all be answered in the opening paragraph in as few words as possible. Try to only include the key points here and then expand on them later on in the release.
Review and refine
Much like the headline, the opening paragraph should be reviewed and refined further to ensure that it covers all of your key points in as little space as possible. It may help to read the paragraph out loud so you can capture any phrases that either don’t make sense or don’t flow well.
Effective opening paragraphs in practice
To better understand how these ideas can be applied to the real world, let us take a look at an example.
On 4 November 2021, The Brag Media published a press release to announce the unveiling of the 200 greatest Australian albums of all time in the December issue of Rolling Stone Australia.
The opening paragraph stated:
“November 4 - Rolling Stone Australia publisher The Brag Media has today announced plans to reveal the 200 Greatest Australian Albums of All Time in the iconic music magazine’s December issue, in partnership with Sonos, the world’s leading sound experience company.”
This opening paragraph, totaling 40 words, manages to cover all 5 W’s and How to provide clarity over the rest of the release.
Who: The Brag Media
What: Reveal of the 200 greatest Australian albums of all time
Where: Rolling Stone Australia, December issue
When: Today (November 4)
Why: Partnership with Sonos
How: Appearance in an iconic music magazine
Crafting an effective press release may feel daunting at first, but with the right structure, it can be mastered by anyone. Use these tips to capture journalist interest from the get-go and get your story told.
Still stuck on the headline? Take a look at some of our tips for crafting an effective headline that stands out to your audience.