Press releases used to be the powerhouses of public relations firms — a way to fax timely, relevant information out to journalists. Nowadays, online publishing platforms like social media and blogs cut down on the supremacy of the press release. It’s now just one tool in a sea of educational channels available to the online marketer. Nevertheless, we think well-written press releases are important in targeting news audiences and leading them to sites where they can find more information about your offerings. Here are 8 tips for writing a killer press release that attracts attention — and results!
1. Agonize over the headline.
The headline needs to grab a reader’s eyeballs and hang on for dear life until this helpless captive is compelled to click on the link to read your release. In an overstimulating environment, it’s easy to miss amazing news if the title doesn’t, in some way, pick at the brain.
- Be specific: Instead of “Save Money On Tablets,” say “Save More than 30% on Tablets in 3 Easy Steps.”
- Create intrigue: Phrases like “How To,” “3 Secrets” or “Five Skills” continue to attract clicks.
- Convey newness: “New Survey Shows Most People Are Allergic To These Five Foods” calls to editors.
- Make it a list: “Six Reasons Boomers Should Take Out A Reverse Mortgage In 2014″ appeals in its simplicity.
2. Give your opening paragraph some legs.
Your first paragraph also has to be truly spectacular. Journalists employ a tactic called the “inverted pyramid,” which covers the Who, What, Where, When, Why and How. The rest of the release will add depth to these basic “must-know” facts. Keep in mind this will be the excerpt shown in search — and may be all people see of your news. Deliver the most value up front.
- Elaborate on the title, making sure to include the name of the company and the nature of the news.
- Explain why the story is newsworthy, unique or important to readers.
EXAMPLE: Exxon and Mobil retailers and Citi are giving cardholders the opportunity to earn a dining certificate that can be used at thousands of restaurants and online merchants. From September 1 through November 30, 2010, ExxonMobil Personal Cardholders who register at dining.exxonmobilcard.com will earn a $50 dining certificate if they purchase 100 gallons of gasoline within 90 days of the date of registration. Offered by Restaurant.com, this certificate can be redeemed online at more than 15,000 restaurants and online merchants nationwide.
3. Add human interest by including quotes from real people.
Bloggers and journalists LOVE quotes! Making your press release sound like an exclusive interview draws more eyes and attention than a bland, generic news blurb. People like reading what the experts have to say about a particular topic. Including quotes adds an air of credibility to your release.
EXAMPLE: Vinnie Cilurzo is one of the most well-known names in beer brewing today. The Wall Street Journal credited the Russian River Brewing Company founder with single-handedly inventing the Double IPA style of beer back in 1994. Since then, the brewer has won more than two dozen medals at the Great American Beer Festival and World Beer Cup. SaveOnBrew.com, America’s only beer price search engine, recently interviewed Vinnie as part of their industry interview series, which runs every Tuesday on the award-winning SaveOnBrew beer blog.
In the interview, fans get an inside look at how a world-class craft brewer selects ingredients and maintains sanitization. “We have a color code system,” Cilurzo tells SaveOnBrew. “Red buckets or anything taped with red tape is ‘100% funky’, meaning both Brett yeast and bacteria. Blue is just Brett parts, and white is ‘100% non-funky.’ Our long term goal is to have a separate ‘funky facility,’ but, for now, we have to do it under one roof.”
4. Like a good résumé, quantify with stats and data, when possible.
Human resources staffers like a job applicant who can quantify their worth. Instead of saying you “generated lots of sales for the company,” you could say you “generated $100,000 in additional revenue in the first three months” with the company. Numbers take generic generalizations and turn them into valuable specifics. Be sure to follow these guidelines from the Public Relations Society of America on using statistics properly in your press releases.
5. Include all information possible in your contact box.
Once you hook readers, you want to give them direction on where to go or what to do next. Don’t just leave them hanging! Include a company logo, videos, high-res photos, quotes, background information, contact details and a link. Check out all the goodies we added to one of our recent releases:
6. Choose a newsworthy angle to focus your message.
Ultimately what makes a press release different than a blog is its newsworthiness. You can write about new products, events, promotional pricing, a new website, holiday-related items for sale, a new market study, debunking industry myths, or a number of other topics.
- EXAMPLES: Here are 61 ideas to consider for your next press release!
7. Keep it short and reasonable.
Reporters and editors are scant on time, so keep your news short and sweet, PRWeb recommends a length of 300 to 800 words. “Keep it short, keep it clean. Journalists read a ton of emailed press releases,” advises Andy Ashby, a writer for the Memphis Business Journal. “If it’s two pages, it’ll cause eyes to glaze over. Write succinctly and then give us the contact info.”
8. Another release to follow up on the past release
Don’t put an end to your first release. Keep issuing more and more releases, each a development of a previous release. I am able to spot few companies running releases as frequent as blog posts. Yes they work. Chain up the releases, connect the stories, brand your business with a consistent media presence.
Want more tips?
Check out the awesome infographic below!
Want to gain serious media exposure from top media outlets? Check out PR specialist Loolwa Khazzoom’s new program, 6 Steps to NAILING the Mainstream Spotlight.