Boggled by how to write a press release? When you’re first starting out, it’s easy to get overwhelmed by all the different types of writing out there. But once you learn how to write it, it’s just one more thing you can add to your portfolio. This time I’ve got help from a guest blogger to show you how to do just that.
by: guest blogger
Four Things to Remember When Writing Press Releases
Not everything that a reporter writes is scooped by him or her. A lot of times, the news finds the reporter. Press releases are tools used by companies and organizations to disseminate information about them or their products. As people are exposed to around 40,000 TV ads per year alone, they are becoming more and more jaded with traditional advertising. People tune out commercials and ads automatically, and companies are finding it a challenge to reach their target market.
Having one’s company mentioned in a news article can do wonders for exposure and sales. It also boosts brand recognition and creates a positive public image. But before you can reach potential customers, you have to first appeal to the reporter tasked with turning your press release into an actual news feature. Read on as we tackle four ways of doing just that.
- Users have to see what your press release can do for them. Your press release has to be relevant in order to merit attention. Outlets will only run your piece if they can spin it into something that their readers can get into. If there’s nothing even remotely interesting in your press release, you’re just wasting everybody’s time. Niche publications and websites are harder to penetrate, but could hold the key to a large demographic. Instead of distributing a generic press release, consider making different versions for varied interest groups. This added effort may initially sound like too much work, but the potential payoff is hard to ignore.
- Learn the common format and follow it. Headlines and subheads are two of the most important parts that you should nail. Reporters go through countless press releases every day and it’s not uncommon for them to just give each one a cursory read. You have to have something that catches attention – but make sure the body has enough substance to back the sensational headline up. The lead paragraph has to contain the entire story. You have to do your best to condense the who, what, when, where, and how into something that can be said in a single breath. Failing to do this could make the reporter pass up on your press release.
- The body should answer any question that may have been raised by your headline. Many writers are good at catching the reporter’s attention, but falter at keeping it. If your purpose is to sell something, the body is the perfect place for actually closing the deal. Details like prices, features, warranties, and how to place credit card information to order is best discussed here. By waiting until the middle or the very end of the press release, you will seem less eager and not as “pushy” at making the sale. People will appreciate this and view you as someone trustworthy and not just out to make a quick buck.
- Contrary to what you may think, words like “new”, “state-of-the-art”, “breakthrough”, and “revolutionary” will only make the reporter doubt the credibility of your press release. Fluff like these are best reserved for traditional advertisements and are better left out of press releases. By pruning out unnecessary words, you are in a position to end up with a shorter press release. This is fortunate since short and concise press releases are generally more powerful and effective. Nobody wants to read several pages and then condense it all into just a few paragraphs. By doing some of the reporter’s work, you have a greater chance of getting on their good side. Try to keep it within a couple of pages and you’re good.
The most important thing you have to remember about writing an effective press release is that you have no control over how it will appear on the website or printed media. You can only influence the outcome by playing into the reporter’s psyche and appealing to him or her. Reporters, through years of experience, know what will appeal to their readers and will write features accordingly. Make your press release suitable and easy to work with and you’ll at least have a fighting chance.
Ashyia Hill is a social media advocate. She helps entrepreneurs compare business credit card deals at CreditDonkey. How are you using press release for success? Leave a comment below.