Awesome content is involved in writing a great press release: from the newsy headline to the text body that gets read, quoted and shared by interested news audiences. All too often, businesses and brands have neglected these useful tools.
In The Power of the New Press Release, we recently discussed what exactly a press release is, what an amazing PR includes and why you should invest in well written releases. This blog delves a little deeper with the current rules involved in today’s successful press releases, and how to come out on top if your goal is writing a great press release.
6 PR Writing Do’s for 2014
According to PR News Channel, “for businesses looking for a different way to utilize the Internet and create an online profile, a press release can be a great way to spread news about your company, business, product or service.” Sounds great, right? The problem is that all too often people go about writing a great press release incorrectly. Somehow they miss the Do’s and do the Don’ts.
- Do write for people, not search engines. We’ve seen a lot of articles talk about writing PRs for search engines, but this tactic changed in 2014. You see, in 2014 the world of SEO evolved. The focus is now on quality content written for people, not search engine crawlers or robots. If you write with your audience in mind, crafting a piece of copy people will want to read and share, search engine indexing will come naturally without any fuss.
- Do optimize for keywords without optimizing. Wait, what? I know, it sounds redundant. But it works! It’s fine to have a keyword or two (even a keyword phrase) in mind. Imbed it in your copy by inserting it where it naturally (and logically) belongs. Never, ever force a keyword or keyword phrase. If it doesn’t read smoothly and logically, it will hurt versus help.
- Do link to relevant web spots. You’ve no doubt heard of backlinking. Linking to relevant web spots (blogs, articles and content) by using words that accurately describe your company’s product or service will cause search engines to associate those words with your website.
- Do link to social media. Use your press release as a window to social media. Link it to your Facebook and LinkedIn pages. Ask your audience to follow you and like your posts, including your press release. Don’t be afraid to ask them to share it as well.
- Do include quotes. Writing a great press release involves personalization. It’s important to give the reader something memorable that they can connect to. Quotes are perfect for achieving this, and they even build relevancy and credibility.
- Do embed a little extra value. PR News Channel recommends imbedding a complementary YouTube video in a press release, but they note that not everyone can (or will) apply this tip. Instead of pigeonholing a video, we think you should instead add a little extra value that fits your brand, such as a free gift or limited time offer.
Extra, Extra! 3 More Tips
Copyblogger made an awesome statement about the modern press release: “Stop writing press releases, and start writing news stories.” In other words, when you sit down to brainstorm or write a press release, a key to success is thinking of it as a news story.
Ever notice how news stories go viral? Why is that? News stories cover a story, use a hook or two, and cover an angle. They make people care. Likewise, your brand’s press releases should hook the reader and cover the story from an angle that makes them care. Here’s how you do this:
- Do tell a story. Everyone loves a good story. Tackle your press releases from the perspective of a storyteller. Understand why the reader should care and stay focused on the why throughout the copy.
- Do present value. Telling a story is not in and of itself good enough. Readers want value. They want a reason to delve into your copy. Use your PR to present value by pointing them to your blog, requesting information or encouraging a purchase. In other words, slip in a call to action with attached value.
- Do tart a discussion. People love social media. They love discussions. They love to get involved. Use a press release to encourage all of this. Link to your social media, encourage comments and jump right into the discussion.
Persuasive Tactics Are Key
Copyblogger published a copywriting 101 blog about the structure of persuasive copy. The accepted structure of persuasive copy is one of the best structures to utilize when writing a great press release for online (and even offline) publication. The epic thing about modern PRs is that they are published online “as is.” Therefore, the more care you put into structure and style, the better the resulting PR will be since standard publishing formats don’t apply. Modern PRs are savvy tools limited only by your creativity. As you write, consider the following:
- Do be specific. Avoid vagueness at all costs. Vague information serves no valuable purpose. It wastes the reader’s time and detracts from your reputation and credibility. Your assertions, facts and statistics should be ultra-specific. Avoid general statements or unsupported information.
- Do demonstrate credibility. Press releases are seen as excellent opportunities to build credibility, especially when treated like a news story or bulletin. Your can assert your credibility through statistics, studies, expert reference and appropriate testimonials.
- Do assert authority. Writing a great press release involves asserting your authority on the subject. You accomplish this by being specific and demonstrating your credibility. If you aren’t already a recognized authority on the topic, you had better do your research. Ensure every aspect of your press release is based in provable and clearly supported fact.
- Do make an offer. Explicitly presenting your product or service to your audience is vital. You need to be bold and firm. Address and relieve the reader’s risk of acceptance. Stand by what you say. Explain or illustrate why the reader needs to act on your offer.
- Do cover 5 basic questions of copy. One of the first things covered is ensuring your PR covers the 5 basic questions of all copy: who, what, where, when and why. If you fail to provide the answers to just one of these questions in your press release, you risk losing your audience—or worse, damaging your credibility and reputation.
- Do sum it up. As you conclude your press release, it’s important to sum up the key points. According to Copyblogger, “returning full circle to your original promise” is vital. It’s just as important to also demonstrate how you’ve fulfilled your original promise.
Bonus Tips for Writing a Great Press Release
Creating a great PR takes time and effort. A lot of big businesses (and even mid-sized to smaller businesses and brands) enlist the help of an experienced copywriting agency or copywriter when creating a PR. The writing behind amazing PRs is just as much a trade skill as it is an art. If you’re up for the challenge of creating your own PR, then we want to leave you with a few more awesome tips.
How do you feel about homework? Well, if you hated homework in school, we promise we’re handing you something you’ll enjoy. If you’ve found this blog informative and entertaining, you’re sure to love what else we have to offer. We’ve taken the time to prep 16 more helpful tips for writing a great press release in the following blogs:
- 5 Ways in Press Release Writing to Get Your PR More Publicity: a brief discussion designed to help you increase and gain the maximum amount of publicity out of every press release you publish. This is a must read, especially if you have trouble reaching a large audience or want to expand your reach.
- 6 Tactics for Getting More from Your Press Release Campaigns: even the most well intentioned PR campaign can fall short of expectations. Whether you’re campaign is handled by a content marketing agency or your personal expertise, learning how to squeeze every drop of awesome from your campaigns is important. Our tactics are designed to help you do just this.
- Press Releases: 5 Best Ways to Optimize for Google and SEO: although SEO changed in 2014, it’s still important to ensure you know how to best optimize your PR for Google. In this blog we cover 5 of the best ways to optimize while linking you to extra material that backs up our strategies while also giving you some extra reading chalked full of educational information.
What are you waiting for? It’s time to utilize the sexy savviness that is the modern press release!