It’s more important than ever to craft the perfect press release to get publicity.
Write a great press release and it becomes a crucial search engine optimization (SEO) tool and the vehicle that delivers your message to a vast audience.
The press release is essential, also, to shape your company’s brand and provide visibility by creating the pathway for all other public relations efforts.
When you come across a story that announces some new development at a business, a non-profit or any other organization, chances are that the story didn’t originate in the efforts of a hard-working reporter on the beat. In most cases, no ink-stained wretch had to ferret out the news that Widget Corporation was bringing a new and improved gizmo or app to market.
Instead, many of those stories start – and some even finish – with the humble press release.
“Most press releases are easily ignored – don’t let it happen to yours.”
In essence, a press release is a statement issued by the organization itself about something that the organization thinks is newsworthy. It hopes that the media will agree with that assessment, and it hopes that the media will be eager to spread the news far and wide.
In a sense, a press release can be a very cost-effective form of advertising. You don’t need to buy media space or time, and the cost of writing and disseminating a release is typically orders of magnitude below that of a typical media buy.
Given those low costs and the ease with which a typical release can be written, it’s no surprise that there is a lot of competition for media attention. With journalists’ inboxes filled to the brim and beyond, most press releases are easily ignored. If your press release is to stand out and get valuable attention, craft your release with care, and start by following six basic steps.
1) Start with a great headline
You must capture the producer’s attention. Yours might be one of 10 or 20 or 100 that cross her desk in the last hour. Your headline needs to motivate a reporter to read what you’ve written. To do that, the headline must deliver the gist of the story immediately. It has to catch her eye quickly. Otherwise, you’ve made it too easy to just move on to the next release and have yours consigned to the delete button.
2) Stand out
Summarize the most important – and preferably dramatic – point you’re making. Do it in one line. Keep it simple enough to be understood at a glance, because that’s all you’re likely to get. Stick to that theme in the first paragraph.
Now that you’ve captured some attention, there’s no time to waste. Your first paragraph should also be short, clear and to the point.
Follow the time-tested rule of reporting the news: Your opening paragraph should tell the reader the 5 Ws — who, what, where, when and why — plus the 1 H, How.
3) Find a quotable quote. Make it a good one
You need a supportive comment from an expert. Make your quote something that journalists would be likely to include in their stories. It doesn’t have to be verbatim. There’s no sin in drafting words for the CEO if she’s agreeable. But the quote does have to add to the story and provide context.
If you’re announcing the opening of a new plant, for example, quoting the CEO as being “thrilled to open the new plant” adds nothing. Instead a quote such as, “We’ve doubled manufacturing capacity with the highest level of automation in the industry” provides context and helps you stand out. Of course, you’ll want to be sure to be accurate.
4) Avoid jargon
Every industry has jargon, and the longer you’ve used that jargon, the more likely you are to view it as everyday speech. However, the rest of the world, and especially the members of the public who make up your audience, may, to put it bluntly, have no idea what you’re talking about.
Keep things simple and clear, and avoid jargon, including obscure acronyms, when you can. As a test, have someone from outside your circle read the release. If it’s clear to them, you should be good to go.
5) Don’t be ‘salesy’
Everyone knows that you’re trying to tell your story in a way that makes the release sound as good as it can be, but don’t make a release a flat-out sales pitch. Don’t be ‘salesy.’ Write it as if it’s an actual news story, something that would naturally appear in your target publication.
By writing in as objective a manner as possible, you’ve made your release more credible, more interesting and more likely to be published, especially as it becomes the kind of release that needs the least amount of work from the journalist who’s deciding what to publish. Make that person’s life as easy as you can, and you’ll both benefit.
Typos and misspellings make your efforts look amateurish. That, in turn, hurts the credibility of your release. Proofread carefully before you submit it to the outlets you’ve chosen, post it online and start social media efforts. Then proofread once more. Good job.
Need help with press releases and media outreach? Contact us at Content Marketing Place.