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Promote a New Class: 6 Parts Every Press Release Needs
A press release is a powerful way to promote a new class. You might think that they’re old-fashioned, but writing a press release is still a good way to organize the information you want to share with the press. A well-written press release can grab the attention of journalists and editors. Plus, they’ll be more likely to run your story since you’ve already done some of the leg work for them.
Press releases tend to follow a consistent format. It includes everything the editor needs to know to decide whether the story will be interesting to their readers. If you leave out an essential part, you’ve made their job a little harder. Since journalists often receive hundreds of pitches and emails a day, they’re unlikely to follow up on a press release that’s missing details. Here are the six parts of a press release you absolutely must include to promote your new class.
Press Releases Organize Information
Businesses and organizations have used press releases to communicate with the media since at least 1906. Over the years, journalists and editors began to rely on press releases to help them discover new stories. Today, many journalists use social media (especially Twitter) and other online tools to discover news. Yet press releases still have their place.
While Twitter can let members of the press know something is happening, it usually doesn’t offer them much context. A press release, on the other hand, organizes all of the information they need. It helps editors judge whether a story will be interesting to their readers. Then it gives reporters the basic details they need to write the story.
6 Parts of Press Release
When you put together a press release, consider the five w’s of journalism: who, what, where, when, and why. You should answer all of these questions in your press release. But the most important is why? After reading your release, a journalist should understand why your class might interest their readers. They should know why it’s newsworthy. Leave that part out, and your press release is nothing more than a fact sheet.
Including these six parts won’t just help you mention all five w’s, you’ll also match the standard press release format that news outlets expect to see. That’s important because busy journalists don’t want to waste time understanding your format. They’re looking for the facts.
1. Headline and Subheading
Your headline is a single line of text that captures attention. It needs to offer enough information to interest the reader while being simple enough to understand at a glance. The best press release headlines answer what and who. If you’re really good you might be able to fit the why in there too.
Let’s look at some examples:
- “Adult Ed Organization Offers New Computer Class”
This headline probably won’t convince an editor to write a story about you. Yes, it mentions who and what, but it’s not very interesting. It doesn’t open up any new questions or make any bold claims.
How about this one:
- “New Class from Adult Ed Prepares Adults For In-Demand Tech Jobs”
Now we have the who, the what, and the why. Suddenly our headline is much more interesting.
Follow your headline with a subheading that adds more detail. What exactly you include here depends on your individual class. Maybe you want to mention the name of the instructor because they’re well-respected in your area. Perhaps you want to point out that the course material was developed in partnership with local businesses. You could also share a statistic that supports your why.
When writing headlines and subheadings, be careful of empty adjectives. You might think your class is ground-breaking, transformative, or interesting. Unfortunately, just including these words won’t necessarily convince an editor of your claim. Show them what you mean instead.
2. Location (Where) and Date (When)
Every press release starts with a city, and often a state. This tells editors where the action will happen. You might notice that newspapers do the same thing. You have a few options here:
- If your class is running in just one location, name that city and state.
- If you’re offering online classes or classes in multiple locations, the city should be wherever your program is headquartered. Unless…
- You’re customizing your press release for the local news outlets in every region where your class will be held. In that case, name the city where the class will happen.
Some press release templates include the date on its own line above the location. Others put it immediately after the state. Neither format is better or worse, what matters is that editors know when to release your story.
3. Hook (Why)
This may be the most important part of any press release. It’s the line or two at the very beginning that “hooks” the editor’s interest. Your goal here is to point out what is exciting, entertaining, or different about your course. Why might the audience for this news outlet want to hear about this class?
Here are a few strategies for writing a hook:
- Start with a compelling statistic: “One in five adults struggle to read the communications from their children’s teachers.”
- Share a story: When Sam Smith lost his job due to pandemic shutdowns, he needed to learn new skills quickly to provide for his family of six. And Smith wasn’t the only one.
- Offer the most important fact first: To offer children a safe and supportive after-school experience, Child Enrichment is launching a new after-school tutoring and adventure program called …
Just make sure you get to the point quickly. Anyone reading your press release should be hooked in the first sentence.
4. A Compelling Quote
Your press release isn’t complete without a quote. Why? Several reasons. First, because it helps the reporter. Their editor is going to ask for a quote to add personality and authenticity to the story. If you provide them with one, you make their job easier.
Second, because it gives the reporter a preview of what an interview might sound like. If they do want to talk to someone, they know that person will be coherent and interesting.
Finally, quotes offer an opportunity to share your opinion. If you write that your program is the best in the region, the journalist will need an impartial source to back that up. But if your Program Director is quoted as saying, “We believe our program is the best in the region,” that’s clearly their opinion and doesn’t require any additional sources.
Just make sure your quote adds something to the story. It should present new information, a clearer perspective, or interesting details.
5. Description of Your Organization (Who)
At the bottom of most press releases, you’ll find something called boilerplate. This is usually a short paragraph that describes the organization mentioned in the press release. You can reuse the same boilerplate for every press release you send out.
Start your boilerplate with bold text that says “About [organization name]”. Then include the big-picture details about what your organization is and what it does. You might mention when you were founded, any accreditations you have, and what types of students you serve. End the paragraph with the words: “for more information visit” followed by your website.
If your press release mentions a partner, high-profile guest instructor, or new technology, you can include boilerplate for that as well. For example, if your organization has partnered with a local accounting firm to offer a family budgeting program, you might include an About Accounting Firm section.
6. Contact Information
If an editor or reporter wants more details about your class, they need to know who to contact. Including media contact information at the bottom or top of your press release makes it easy for them.
While they could just respond to your email or look you up online, that adds extra steps. Remember that the point of a press release is to make it as easy as possible for a media outlet to tell your story. Make sure your contact information includes the name, email address, and phone number of someone who can confidently discuss your new course and your program.
Using a Press Release to Announce a New Class
A press release is one step in your new class promotion strategy. While it can be a convenient way to share the news with press outlets, it shouldn’t be the only thing you do. We’ve written about other ways to get the word out including using social media and getting help from instructors. All of these tools work together to help you spread the news of your class as far as possible. If you’re trying to get the attention of journalists and editors, a press release is probably the simplest tool for the job.
Nic is skilled in scaling start-up edtech and education organizations to growth-stage success through innovative marketing. A former journalist and copywriter, Nic holds a postgraduate certificate in digital and print publishing from Columbia University School of Journalism's publishing course.