Let us begin here because while contact information is the easiest part of this release, it is also the one most abandoned! It simply happens: you get so involved in the press release that you forget the most essential advice: how to get in contact with you! The reporter cannot do a story if they cannot find you. In the upper top of this release you need to put name, address, and telephone number and email address. Add a fax number also, just in case. You need to give as many choices as possible as you need them to find you with ease. Spend a good deal of time crafting a solid headline to your press release. These may be the only lines reporters read prior to the sheet has chucked in the garbage, so you need to grab their attention straight away. You want the headline to tell your story, upfront and crystal clear. When I wrote the headline for my husband’s press launch, I knew I wanted local instructor and City Stage in the headline because I knew I’d inform a small-town-guy-makes-it-in-the-big-city kind of narrative.
The headline doesn’t need to be the traditional setup, either. The headline which St. Martin’s used on the press release for my book did not have a conventional headline–they used a star blurb as the headline since the individual, Professor Henry Louis Gates, Jr., had invoked the name of the writer Toni Morrison (she and I are from the same hometown) which was attention-getting on it is own! As soon as you have your headline, follow it up with a solid story to match. Consider your basics: who, what, where, when and why. Highlight important dates (such as appearances, book signings, shows, etc.) and details. Pretend that this is the story that will appear in the paper and you are writing it for them (in reality, one paper did take one of my press releases and operate it almost verbatim!).
It will help if you can make your book a part of a bigger picture and not just, here is another book someone wrote. A headline from another St. Martin’s press release (for Jeff Chang’s Cannot Stop Will not Stop: A History of the Hip-Hop Generation) reads A Dynamic Breakdown of the Single Most Important Cultural Movement of the past fifty years. Wow. That’s big. It makes you want to read on just to learn exactly what best single stage reloading press are referring to. If it is appropriate, mention recognizable names (like in the headline example above.) My husband’s series is sponsored in part with a grant from the Princess Grace Foundation. There was no way I was going not to mention Princess Grace! I also got choreographers Mark Morris and Julie Taylor in there as well (as a portion of their dancers’ credits).