THE CONVENTIONAL way a news story is written is using a structure called the “inverted pyramid”. This is also how effective press releases are written. So what is this upside-down pyramid? Well, it just means that the weighty, most important information is at the top, and the lighter, less important facts are underneath. It allows the journalist to stop reading part-way through and still understand what the story is about.
Traditionally, a press release incorporates the who, what, when, where and why of the story. That is:
- Who is it about?
- What happened?
- When did it take place?
- Where did it occur?
- Why did it happen?
Let’s look at a good press release from Dyson, which follows this design. The headline explains substance of the story:
Dyson doubles number of UK engineers
It starts with the when, who and what. The who and what should always be in the first sentence:
From April 2010, Dyson is doubling its UK engineering team from 350 to 700. Bucking the trend, Dyson is increasing research and development investment and recruiting during recession.
Next we get the where, with more of the what:
The new engineers, many from university, will work at Dyson’s Wiltshire laboratories, where machines are conceived, researched and designed. New positions include graduate design engineers, mechanical engineers and acoustic engineers.
Later one, we get the why:
James Dyson said: “I am extremely proud of the new technology developed by our engineers in Malmesbury. It is vital that Dyson – and the UK – continues to invest in the nation’s engineering talent if we are to stay ahead.” If you follow that sort of structure, you’re on the right path.