If you watch or have ever watched How I Met Your Mother, you know two things: Barney Stinson is the ultimate ladies man and a man of supreme knowledge. When he’s not picking up ladies, or teaching his friend Ted how to do so, he spits out pearls of wisdom applicable to living an awesome life and, it turns out, writing a good press release.
I’ve been fortunate enough to have written many press releases in my day, most of them for an organization that requires a few per month. Other students and colleagues I know aren’t as fortunate to have had that opportunity. Below are a few tips on putting together a press release, easily remembered by quotes from the one and only Barney Stinson.
1. “It’s going to be legen… wait for it… dary! Legendary.”
The best kind of “legendary” is one you wait for. Barney likes to keep us in suspense, waiting for the proper time to drop the “dary” on the world. In a similar fashion, wait for substantial news that deserves a press release before issuing one—not every random change in your organization warrants one. Holding out for newsworthy items increases the likelihood people will pay attention when the time comes.
2. “Suit up!”
Barney dresses for success. Instead of wearing skinny jeans and a tie-dye tee to pick up ladies, Barney dons a suit because it represents who he is and it is the first thing women see when they meet him. The first thing that people see when glancing at a press release is the title. Fight the urge to get too cutesy or clever, instead focus on developing a powerful title that clearly relates to the content. You can do this by “suiting up” your title with keywords so editors and readers know what your release is about from the start.
3. “New is always better.”
Think like a reporter. Most people will only read the first two paragraphs of an article or press release. This is why it is better to include the new and newsworthy information—the who, what, when, where, why, and how—at the top of the release. If this information interests readers, they’ll continue reading. If not, at least you are giving your important content the best chance of readership you can.
4. “It’s like Gandhi said, ‘Smile don’t cost nothing, sugar.’”
I’m not sure if Barney knew who Gandhi was exactly… but a quote can give a press release some perspective. One can also help the press release sound like less of a flat-out advertisement. Whether it is from an expert, an organization leader, or just data that supports your content, make sure you attribute properly! Also, don’t use the above quotation. I’m at least 60% sure Gandhi didn’t really say this…
5. “Think of me as Yoda, only instead of being little and green, I wear suits and I’m awesome. I’m your bro—I’m Broda!”
Suits and awesomeness—this describes Barney in a nutshell. In the last paragraph of your press release, tell your audience who you are and what you are all about in a nutshell. This paragraph is what’s called a boilerplate, and contact information (like a website) can be included here if you deem it necessary.
Final note: Always remember to edit and proofread your press release before distributing or submitting to a journalist to publish. While you may not live by Barney’s code in other aspects of your life, I hope these quotes will help in remembering the basics of writing a solid press release.
What else would you add to the list? Feel free to let me know in the comments section below.