Press Release Tips: Hook Editors with Strong Openings

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If you want your press release to get an editor’s attention, you need to get to the point as quickly as possible. Dozens of press releases stream into a newsroom every day. Most of them end up in the trash because an editor simply didn’t have time to read through the whole release to grasp the writer’s point. You might have a great, timely hook, but it won’t get noticed if it’s buried in the fourth paragraph.

The two most important elements of the press release are the headline and opening paragraph. Assume that will be all an editor ever reads. By the time an editor has skimmed the first few lines, it should be obvious why your story will be important to readers.

What is a Hook in a Press Release?

A hook in a press release is the first sentence or paragraph that grabs the reader’s attention. It’s like a movie trailer that makes you want to watch the whole movie. The hook should be short, interesting, and make the reader curious to learn more about the story in the press release.

A good hook will:

  • Be easy to understand
  • Tell why the story is important
  • Be different from other news
  • Use exciting words

Here’s an example of a simple hook:

hate writing press releases

Acme Company invents a new toy that will make kids forget about their video games.

This hook quickly tells what’s new and why it matters in a way that makes the reader want to know more.

Great Hooks Start Start with the Headline

Some people prefer to tackle headlines last, because they’re often the most difficult part of a press release. I find writing the headline first helps me to focus while writing the body of the release. Here are some headline guidelines:

Press release headlines should be short and catchy; usually five to seven words is enough. Make each word count. Use active verbs, staying away from “is” and “are.” Avoid fancy adjectives and adverbs all together. Take out unnecessary words like “the,” “an,” and “that.”

Punctuation isn’t necessary. Definitely don’t use exclamation points, as they don’t make your press release look any more newsworthy. In fact, they can seem rather desperate and pathetic.

Be specific. Instead of saying “ABC Inc. Creates New Jobs,” say “ABC Inc. Creates 340 Manufacturing Jobs in Fair Hill.” This gives an editor something concrete to grasp.

Use a short subhead if you feel you have other important information you need to present up front. However, a subhead isn’t necessary on a press release.

Your First Paragraph – Dangling the Hook

Like the headline, the opening paragraph to a press release needs to be enticing, concise, and to the point. In journalism, reporters often write using a format called the inverted pyramid. This structure calls for the most important information to appear at the top of the story. When you’re writing a press release, you should follow this same format.

Imagine an editor is going to print your press release in his publication. However, he only has a very small news hole. Chances are he’ll start cutting away text from the bottom, so you’ll want all of the important information to be up top.

The opening paragraph should be no more than three sentences, and should hook the reader immediately. It should answer the basic journalistic questions: Who? What? Where? When? Why? How? Focus on the main idea, not the little details.

Press Release Hook Examples

Do you struggle to find hook ideas for your press releases? Everyone does. But the better you get at crafting great hooks, the better your press release pickup and coverage will be.

Here are 30 examples of possible hooks that could be used in press releases. Obviously, most won’t apply to you directly. But just because it’s about a restaurant and you don’t have anything to do with selling food doesn’t mean you can’t use that idea as the basis for something that does apply to you.

  1. A new app lets you order ice cream delivery right to your door.
  2. A company has created a shoe that can tie itself, just like in the movies.
  3. A group of kids have started a lemonade stand that donates all its money to help sick animals.
  4. A new type of candy can make sour things taste sweet and sweet things taste sour.
  5. A town has elected a dog as their new mayor, and everyone loves it.
  6. Scientists have discovered a new dinosaur that was as tall as a house.
  7. A company has invented a flying car that you can park in your garage.
  8. A new video game lets you explore the world and help people in need.
  9. Foodies rejoice! A new restaurant is serving up the best tacos in town.
  10. Get ready to say goodbye to boring workouts. A new gym is here to make exercise fun.
  11. Imagine never having to charge your phone again. This new battery lasts for weeks.
  12. Scientists have found a way to make chocolate that’s actually good for you.
  13. A local hero saved a puppy from a burning building. Now the puppy is looking for a new home.
  14. A high school student has invented a robot that can do your homework for you.
  15. A local bakery is making a cake so big, it will break a world record.
  16. A new toy can read your mind and guess what you’re thinking.
  17. A girl has started a club where kids can learn to be superheroes.
  18. A company has created a robot pet that acts just like a real animal.
  19. Scientists have found a way to make vegetables taste like candy.
  20. A new type of ice cream never melts, even on the hottest days.
  21. A town has built a playground where kids can play all day without getting tired.
  22. A company has invented a phone that can project movies onto any wall.
  23. A new kind of school lets kids learn by playing games all day.
  24. Scientists have discovered a way to talk to animals, and they have a lot to say.
  25. A local artist is painting a mural so big, you can see it from space.
  26. A new restaurant serves food that floats in the air like magic.
  27. A company has created a toy car that can drive itself around the house.
  28. A town has started a festival where everyone gets to be a king or queen for a day.
  29. Scientists have found a way to make trees glow in the dark like rainbows.
  30. A new amusement park lets you ride roller coasters underwater.

12 Tips To Create Great Journalism Hooks

  1. Keep it short and simple. Use only one or two sentences.
  2. Make it exciting. Use words that make people curious and want to know more.
  3. Focus on what’s new or different. Show why your story is special.
  4. Think about your audience. Write a hook that will interest the people you want to reach.
  5. Solve a problem. Show how your news can help make people’s lives better.
  6. Use numbers or facts. This can make your hook sound more important and real.
  7. Ask a question. This can make people want to keep reading to find the answer.
  8. Be clear. Make sure people can quickly understand what your story is about.
  9. Don’t exaggerate. It’s okay to be excited, but don’t say things that aren’t true.
  10. Practice and get feedback. Write a few different hooks and ask others which ones they like best.
  11. One of the worst (and most overused) ways to begin a press release is to say ABC President John Smith today announced … Obviously if you’re sending out a news release, someone is announcing something. Tell the news first, worry about attribution later.
  12. Finally, avoid marketing hype and sales jargon. Editors and reporters can sniff out a sales pitch from a mile away and they’re not interested in giving you a free ad. If they sense you’re trying to pull one over on them, chances are they won’t even bother reading your press release at all the next time.

This article, written by Karen Baxter, originally appeared in PR Fuel (, a free weekly newsletter from eReleases (, the online leader in affordable press release distribution. To subscribe to PR Fuel, visit:

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