This post was originally published in October, 2013 and completely updated in April, 2020.
Let’s face it.
Some press releases are anything but epic.
Flavorless headlines and dry, unemotional storytelling can fumble a potentially great PR. If you’re new to PR writing or looking to boost efficiency, templates are a dependable solution. However, relying too heavily on a standard copy will leave your PR sounding bland and cold.
So what’s the secret ingredient that makes your reader’s jaw drop? How exactly do you write a good press release?
Newsflash: there’s no secret. Like all great writing, it starts with hooking your audience.
Who is a Press Release Written For?
A PR is your direct line to journalists, influencers, and news editors. They receive a deluge of emails every day, so they only read the best PRs. Unfortunately, if yours isn’t up to snuff, it’s likely not even opened.
Want to write PRs journalists can’t resist opening? Make sure your PR hits these three points:
- It’s relevant. Your content is newsworthy and cutting-edge timely.
- It’s straightforward. Your formatting is consistent, clear, and ready to print.
- It’s juicy. Your story is engaging and gets people talking, which results in increased ROI.
Types of Press Release (And What a PR Can Do for Your Brand)
In this ultra-digital era, brands can tap into countless channels to announce innovations to the public. So, are press releases outmoded? No way! PRs are still one of the most budget-friendly ways to hit diverse brand targets and gain news coverage.
Check out these 5 examples of press releases from 2020 to see what your brand can do with a PR.
1. Shine a Spotlight on New Products and Services
Apple is constantly innovating, so to foster serious buzz for the iPad Pro they make sure to announce cutting-edge new features. It’s a stellar example of how to write a press release for a product. Here’s why: it’s social media-ready, with plenty of images and to-the-point details. Consider using this press release as a sample for your next product launch.
2. Highlight How Business Partnerships and Developments Connect to the Public
Google’s short and direct PR announcing a new business partnership is ready to be published as-is. By emphasizing fan experience, Google and MLB keep it hyper-relevant to the public.
3. Reveal Events
From conferences to concerts, 2020’s events are going virtual. Social Media Week is no exception – they created #SMWONE and used this PR to announce their agenda and speaker lineup. It’s a solid example of how to write a press release for an event, even the way we host events is changing.
In true SMW fashion, they keep it fun with emojis, hashtags, and plenty of ways to share.
4. Build Brand Awareness and Bolster Reputation
PRs help new brands cultivate a name for themselves. They’re also integral for pivoting from a social media snafu (it happens). For research-driven organizations, PRs can announce new studies to show authority on a subject.
Cisco’s summary of their Digital Readiness Index works on several levels: it displays social responsibility, demonstrates industry leadership, and provides an opportunity for backlinks.
5. Beware the Bandwagon
In the thick of the COVID19 crisis, this is one aspect of PRs we can’t ignore. Journalists’ inboxes are stuffed daily with brands eager to weigh in. Whether well-intentioned or opportunistic, this type of behavior isn’t new. However, it’s more concentrated than ever before, causing facepalms and frustration across Twitter.
It’s enough to make any company wary of sounding tone-deaf, but KFC gets it just right.
Partnered with non-profit Blessings in a Backpack, KFC’s PR focuses entirely on supporting food-insecure children. Here’s why it works: it’s 0% focused on selling.
Getting It Right the First Time: A Checklist for Beginners
Wondering what to include in your first press release? Use our sample press release template below to check you’ve covered all the key elements. It’s especially well-suited for traditional press release distribution services, such as PR Web.
Building your own media list? Check out our distribution guide for new press release formats for 2020.
Fill-in-the-Blank Press Release Template
[SUMMARIZE THE TOPIC OF THE PRESS RELEASE IN AN EYE-CATCHING HEADLINE]
[Provide Key Additional Details in the Subheader. If the Headline Reframes News to Amp Up Excitement, Here’s Where You Can Be More Direct]
[DATE AND LOCATION]
[This first introductory paragraph contains the most important information in the PR. It answers who, what, where, when, and why.]
[Give secondary details in the next paragraph, if necessary.]
[In the body copy, include authority quotes and stats. “If your organization has a chief spokesperson, remember to name them in full and give their job title,” said Jane Doe, CMO of XYZ Company.]
[Next is the boilerplate. It’s a precise about section that gives insight into your organization.]
[Include your press contact details last.]
### = Bold and centered, these three pound signs signify the end of your PR.
How to Format Your Press Release
Should you use Word or submit a PDF? A quick perusal of 3 press releases from major companies reveals that in 2020 PR writers:
1. Provide Several Formats
Chipotle’s PR keeps it professional by offering PDF and print format. For larger publications, RSS and email buttons make sharing easy.
2. Don’t Embed Images in the Document
Providing downloadable images makes your PR easier to copy-paste. By making them available in several formats, you’ll reach a wider array of journalists.
3. Write With Copy-Paste In Mind
Disney’s recent news is a great example of a good press release headline. Here’s why: it’s direct, relevant to the reader, and primed for Twitter.
Looking For More Examples?
For more killer PR samples, check out this Google Docs press release template. If you’re writing a more traditional PR, the American Library Association provides a useful sample press release pdf.
Let’s dive in and explore the anatomy of amazing press releases.
Press Release Structure
Follow this roadmap to build a solid, professional press release from the ground up.
Step 1: Craft a Headline That Pops
Killer PR headlines are eye-catching, relevant, and to-the-point. Let’s explore three samples of press release headlines from 2020.
Netflix nails it with this release for Bert Kreischer’s new comedy special. It’s intriguing, edgy (which follows Kreisher’s brand), and primed for social media.
Lego’s headline uses wordplay to put a brand-specific spin on their product launch PR.
Adobe cleverly shifts the focus to celebrating a well-loved product while introducing new and revamped features as a “gift” to Photoshop fans.
Step 2: Lead With the Crucial Facts
In the age of clickbait and misleading articles, new writers risk picking up bad habits.
To avoid this, stick to the inverted pyramid. Not familiar with this journalism standby? This checklist will put you on the right track to writing a good press release.
- Most Important Details – Answer who, what, where, when, and why.
- Supporting Details – Carefully chose quotes and stats.
- More Information – Adda boilerplate and contact information.
Take NASA’s recent press release as an example. They hit all 5 W questions without wasting any time:
- Who: 12,000 applicants
- What: Applied to become astronauts
- Where: Every US state
- Why: Selected astronauts will explore the moon and their research will be used for future human missions to Mars.
- When: New astronaut candidates will be introduced in summer 2021.
Step 4: Show Your Authority With Stats and Quotes
Microsoft recently partnered with C3.ai and leading universities to create a consortium dedicated to AI research. This high-level, complicated endeavor is brought to the publicly relevant level through an emotionally-charged, authoritative quote. “I cannot imagine a more important use of AI,” C3.ai CEO Thomas M. Seibel says.
A rule of thumb when choosing quotations: use it to drive your story forward, and be sure to stay true to the voice of the quoted person.
Pampers uses stats as a driving force to announce their partnership with Shay Mitchell and Chrissy Teigen, who led an Instagram mom-chat. By pushing stats to the forefront, the personal anecdotes from both actresses are transformed into a positive response to Pampers’ initiative.
Step 5. Make It Easy for Readers to Follow Through
By now, your readers are hooked, excited, and eager to act. Want to hit your brand goals? You’ll need a call-to-action. Skipping it can mean reduced ROI, whether that means sales or engagement.
Take your CTA to the next level by adding direct action verbs, as Old Spice does here:
Their goal: announcing new products. Why it’s awesome: they bring back a beloved marketing campaign and release new products through storytelling. By giving readers a chance to Tweet their glee, the news stays upbeat and spreads organically.
For a more traditional CTA format, check out how McDonald’s uses curiosity to drive action.
Step 6. Keep it Concise
“Brevity is the soul of wit (and engagement),” Shakespeare wrote. OK, maybe we added “engagement”, but it’s still essential advice for writing effective PRs. Restrict yourself to 1-1.5 pages (about 400 words max). Remember, journalists often only read through your first paragraph and skim the rest.
Domino’s keeps it brief by using a simple rhyme as a hook and immediately jumping in.
The main takeaway: push toward your PR’s goal, then get out. Save the purple prose for Shakespeare.
Step 7: Use AP Style
Make it easy for the press to print your PR by writing it in AP Style. It’s standard at most news organizations, which means if your PR isn’t AP-ready, someone has to rewrite it before printing. Unfortunately, that can be enough for journalists to hit the “delete” button.
Not sure if your recipients use AP? Consider creating two versions. This will double as an A/B test, too.
Ready to take your press release from boring to brilliant, but not sure where to start? Check out our journalist-written press releases.
Write a Jaw-Dropping Press Release
It’s time to put your new skills to the test! You’ve got all the tools to start writing epic press releases that get results.
Prefer to leave it to the pros? Learn more about how our on-staff journalists craft all-star PRs by visiting our Content Shop.
You have tons of amazingly creative ideas and are starting (for real, finally) your new business. Or, you’re launching a book, or even a new service inside your existing company.
You might be able to pull a few strings to get an event going to celebrate your achievement, put out a blog or video about it.
Then, you start listing all the things you need, and press coverage comes up as your biggest challenge.
It’s easy to imagine the next part.
You have (almost) no money left and absolutely zero ties with bloggers and journalists.
So now what?
10 Advantages That Press Release Writing Will Help You Unlock
You might be asking yourself:
How am I going to get press coverage? How could I share my news with the whole world without depleting what’s left of my marketing budget?
All the best answers point in the same direction: press release writing services represent the key to efficient and affordable self-promotion.
Press releases deliver exceptional results for virtually any business, regardless of its size, profit margins, profile and industry; which means that this type of content could also work like magic for you. This brings us to the next question: what exactly should you expect from world-class press release writing services? Here are the 10 main benefits of press releases that are constantly witnessed (and appreciated) by our clients.
1. Instant Exposure
As a small or medium business owner with limited resources, how could you spread the word about your company and products in the most effective manner, without breaking the bank to reach your target?
Because you know that content is king and distribution is queen, you want to bet everything on stellar copy that will sweep your potential buyers off their feet and make them daydream about your merchandise and talk about it in their sleep. In this moment, the question that you should ask yourself is this: how do you choose the right type of content and distribution services to achieve this specific goal? On second through, why choose when you can benefit from a complex content strategy based on an ideal combination of expert articles, blog posts, killer landing pages and press releases?
Each type of content plays an important part that you simply can’t afford to ignore. For instance, while landing pages help you introduce your brands and goods to the world and convert leads into customers, blog posts allow you to establish a more personal connection with your readers, by answering some of their most burning questions, offering advice, expressing your expert opinion and sharing your insight with your audience.
On the other hand, press releases let you build trust and authority on different fronts, by stimulating journalists and media outlets to cover your story, and also by giving your prospects a new reason to visit your store, land on your website, find out more about your most recent accomplishments and try, buy and spread the word about your new product or service.
2. Increased Sales Potential
Aside from bringing credibility and allowing you to stay in the public eye, press releases can also boost your profit margins, by highlighting the most remarkable key benefits and features of your products that position your merchandise on top of any other alternatives currently available on the market. You may feel the need to write and distribute press releases on different occasions, to announce a series of achievements, such as new technological developments, a product or service launch, a new partnership with a prominent company, a milestone that you have just reached or new acquisitions.
Each event that we’ve mentioned is newsworthy enough to command attention and put you and your business into the spotlight for a certain period of time. While the effectiveness of press releases can be difficult to measure, given that you can’t know for sure how many journalists have actually picked up your story and how many people have purchased your products as a result of this increased exposure, it’s safe to say that this type of content can be used to refine your message, get ample press coverage and explore an easier path to convince your potential buyers that what you’re selling it worthy of their attention, time and money.
3. The Chance to Boost the Effectiveness of Your Marketing Plan
Recent statistics unveiled by MarketingProfs indicate that 71% of all B2B marketers count on content marketing to generate new sales leads. This sounds amazing, but what if we told you that you could actually up this percentage by using every single tool in your content marketing toolbox to enhance your online visibility, become more popular and make more money? Press releases represent an exceptional, incredibly affordable marketing addition that you should add to your campaign. You simply cannot go wrong with these tools because they are designed to be controlled by their creators in terms of targeted audience and message.
4. The Opportunity to Brand Yourself as an Industry Expert
Press releases are a great way to build trust and credibility in your field of activity. An excellent PR campaign will offer you the chance to brand yourself as a high-authority artist/business owner and underline the unique attributes of your products.
5. Increased Traffic to Your Website
According to the data shared by ereleases.com, 80 million people worldwide go online daily, looking for unique insight and exclusive stories. This impressive number reveals just how important it really is to use every trick in the book to push your feature to the top of your prospects’ newsfeed and boost your exposure.
Using press releases, you can do that, while also including one or two links to your blog or website, to guide your reader towards other platforms where you promote and sell your goods. As Lisa Buyer from Search Engine Watch points out, while Google has stopped companies from squeezing valuable link juice from press releases by implementing penalties for shady, manipulative link building strategies, a more traditional kind of PR work still represents the key to a flawless communication with journalists, influencers, investors and potential clients.
Without trying to game the system, you could still boost website traffic via press releases (and any other type of quality digital content for that matter), by simply optimizing the key elements of your copy, including keywords, headlines, videos, photos, hashtags and description.
6. Important SEO Benefits
Press releases published by several media outlets will offer you valuable backlinks to your website. Moreover, by optimizing your content, you could increase its visibility online and make your articles searchable on the Internet. Tags pointing to your topic and a set of relevant, industry and company-specific keywords are extremely important elements that you should add to your copy to optimize your press releases and unlock instant SEO benefits.
7. A New Opportunity to Reach Your Targeted Audience
Press release distribution services are industry-specific and ensure location targeting, a prominent advantage that increases your odds of promoting your message in front of an audience that is more likely to respond to your CTAs. This type of services based on geographical location can maximize your reach and help you get in touch with people who share your vision, mission and interests and would be more inclined to test, buy and recommend your products.
8. The Perfect Occasion to Distribute Your Content Across Different Channels
When you’re striving to make a name for yourself on an overcrowded market, it is vital to explore all available mediums to express yourself, build and maintain a connection with your public, receive financial support for your upcoming project and lure customers. Press releases ensure media coverage and can help you see your story in newspapers and magazines or hear about most recent accomplishments on the radio. All these channels can support your marketing efforts, turning you into a more powerful player in your sector.
9. A Solid Relationship with Journalists
Press releases enable you to create stronger ties with journalists who are looking for a good story to share with their readers. A well-written press release will enable you to capture the attention of several media outlets and create win-win situations with influencers in your industry who need to cover interesting facts to stay relevant and competitive on their niche.
10. A Cost-Effective Method to Attract Deep-Pocketed Investors
Press releases offer you the simplest and most affordable method to build your online reputation and increase your visibility on your market. Aside from making your goods seem more desirable in the eyes of your prospects and attracting more clients, press releases can help you capture the attention of influent investors who could become your future sponsors, lift your startup off the ground and fuel your ascension.
How Should You Choose a Press Release Distribution Service?
Now that you are familiar with the benefits of press release writing, you are probably wondering how you could select the most suitable distribution service for this type of content. In this case, our advice is to stick to the options that are fully compatible with your needs, goals and budget.
With several free and paid alternatives at your disposal, it is extremely important to filter your selection based on the SEO benefits and traffic/exposure opportunities offered by each candidate. Also, you may want to go in favor of a press release distribution service with a high level of credibility and authority. You can narrow down your search by simply checking some of the most relevant metrics in the SEO industry, including Moz Domain Authority and Google PageRank. We highly recommend PRWeb, the leader in online publicity and news distribution. Its editorial team can support your business growth goals by reviewing, optimizing and distributing press releases to some of the most influential bloggers, journalists, media outlets and search engines.
Aside from getting the most reputable and efficient network to distribute your content, you should also pay attention to up the quality of the message that you are planning on promoting.
If you want to count on an uninterrupted flow of first-hand content with real substance crafted to increase your odds of staying in the limelight, check out on our exceptional press release writing services and find out how they could help you and your brand steal the show in any industry.
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!
Here’s a riddle for you: what’s short, concise, compelling and newsworthy and can boost the online visibility and profitability of your business by spreading the word about your most recent accomplishments?
You know the answer to this one: it’s a bird, it’s a plane, it’s a press release that travels fast to satisfy the universal hunger for premium content that is tormenting both bloggers and journalists every single step of the way. Press releases are extremely valuable content pieces designed to support your online marketing strategies and help you make a name for yourself.
How to Write Press Releases Like a Pro
Writing press releases is not art and it’s not science. It’s a combination of both elements. In order to create and distribute truly effective press releases, you have to understand how the mind of your targeted audience functions. Empathy is an important piece of the puzzle enabling you to perfect your press release writing skills and resonate with your public and also with your tastemakers, who amplify your message and make sure it reaches an even broader audience. Most people rely on a trial-and-error process to assess the quality and the effectiveness of their web writing. But you are not most people. You can do better than this.
According to Raven tips on press release writing, in order to convince journalists to take your masterpiece into consideration and include it in their article, you have to think like a journalist. It actually makes sense. Can you image how difficult it must be to identify truly amazing newsworthy facts when you are bombarded with tons of written junk and mambo jumbo on a daily basis, when you’re really craving for stellar content and accurate, trustworthy sources of inspiration? In order to perfect your press release writing, you must start by identifying and avoiding these 3 extremely common and annoying mistakes that could turn you into an average Joe instead of helping you enjoy the fair share of fortune and fame that great content creators are entitled to.
Press Release Writing Pitfalls That You Should Avoid at All Costs
a) Overkill Just Killed Your Press Release. Oops. Make sure you don’t start your quotes with the overrated, extremely irritating fragment indicating that you are really excited to let your clients know that you have succeeded in something. Of course you’re excited! You have all the reasons in the world to be thrilled: you’ve launched a new product, expanded your company or have recently invested time, money and energy in a new partnership. Nobody says that it’s illegal to show a bit of enthusiasm, but don’t overdo it. Keep the fact, but ditch the hyperbole. Downplay the “we” factor in your presentation; after all, your products should be into the spotlight, not your merits, your moneymaking efforts or your excitement.
b) Fabricated Facts Never Tricked Anyone into Buying Your Story. Don’t invent facts and don’t include statements that you cannot back with solid evidence.
c) Giving Up Is Not an Option: Write Killer Press Releases or Die Trying. Most importantly, don’t lose your hope. Keep your press release writing simple and straight to the point. Emphasize the novelty that is relevant and newsworthy and accentuate its impact on your targeted audience.
5 Ways to Bring and Keep Your Press Releases in the Public Eye While Boosting Their Effectiveness
Press release writing is not as difficult as you may be inclined to think. As a matter of fact, there are at least 5 foolproof methods to bring your press releases into the attention of a broader audience and maximize their influence fast and with minimal effort.
1. Create Better Stories. Don’t write press releases just to generate inbound links. It won’t work. Google is already one step ahead of you on this one. By cataloging links in press releases as unnatural, it basically forces content creators to use the rel nofollow attribute. So instead of treating your press releases like plain SEO tools, give them a little bit of credit. They are food for thought consumed on a daily basis by millions of journalists worldwide who are constantly looking for genuine, attention-grabbing stories. Think first, optimize second. Make sure your story sounds too good to be true when it actually is. Self-indulgent sales pitches are so yesterday. They no longer prove their utility, so unless you want to bore a journalist to death, don’t invest your time and money in them. Create stellar stories that can be quoted, which are based on 100% verifiable facts.
2. Keep It Simple. Always write in the 3rd person, present facts from the readers’ perspective and keep it short and simple. A good press release shouldn’t count more than 500 words to prove a point. You are not writing a novel and you don’t get paid by the word, so don’t hesitate to be brief. Get to the point fast and don’t use tons of adjectives to highlight your authority or your amazing capabilities, experience and accomplishments.
3. Rely on First-Class Distribution Strategies. If content is a powerful king, then proper distribution is its influent queen. Make sure you email your press releases to your targeted audience. According to a Copyblogger post on how to use the modern press release, a human touch is what makes the difference between great press releases that are being shared and quoted and mediocre ones that sink into oblivion since the very beginning. Pick up the phone and make sure your targeted bloggers and journalists actually managed to read your story. Distribute your press releases via a good wire service, but don’t forget to explore marketing opportunities brought to you by social media platforms. Sharing your press releases on social networking websites can only work to your advantage, allowing you to raise the online visibility of your brand.
4. Optimize with Maximum Care. Optimize your press releases, but always remember that Google is breathing down your neck. You wouldn’t want to rely on shady optimization tactics that could turn out to be counterproductive. Use relevant keywords in your headlines and body copy, but don’t overdo it. Keyword stuffing is one of the capital sins listed in the SEO Decalogue.
5. Opt for an Ideal Format. How you write web content is almost as important as what you write. This rule applies also when it comes to crafting result-oriented press releases. The standard format comprises a few key elements that you should not omit, including headline, dateline, introductory paragraph, body, boilerplate, source and media contact information. According to iReach, subheads are optional, but they can help you put your ideas in order and organize your material more effectively.
Now you know it. Great format, optimized, stellar content, a good story with a twist, world class distribution strategy and a refined, studied simplicity represent the main factors that could raise the visibility and the effectiveness of your content pieces and help you improve your press release writing skills in no time.
Critics have been questioning the future of press releases for years. And sometimes it seems like the naysayers could have a point. With constantly changing Google algorithms, the immediacy of microblogging, and the effortless accessibility of information on the Internet, it can be easy to be swept away in the sea of doom and gloom. But have no fear. Doom and gloom, have no place in press release discussions. No, instead of “RIP press releases,” we say, “Long live this straightforward and news-worthy content!” (Sorry, not the catchiest chant, but stick with us, ok?).
In fact, we believe with solid, well-written copy and an effective distribution service, this “What, When, Who, Where, How and Why”-centric article format could be one of the most powerful and far-reaching components in your company’s communication strategy.
Wait, What is a Press Release?
But we do need to pause and make sure we are taking a modern, savvy approach to this very worthy tool in our copy toolbox. In a world of social media and blogging, it only makes sense that press releases, a stalwart in the media world since the early 1900s, must also continue to evolve with the latest communication channels. It’s not time to leave the mighty press release behind. Rather, it’s time to figure out how to incorporate each press release seamlessly into the rest of your content campaign.
According to Entreprenuer.com, a press release is a “public relations announcement issued to the news media and other targeted publications for the purpose of letting the public know of company developments.”
And we agree, although we’d like to expand the definition a bit. In addition to “news media and other targeted publications,” we’d like to add that modern press releases should also be written with influential social media users and bloggers in mind. That’s right – today’s press release should have more in common with a postable article than a stuffy, formatted disclosure of facts.
So here’s our definition of a modern press release:
The key background facts of newsworthy business events written in an easily readable manner that appeals to media pros, social media mavericks and interested customers.
The New What, When, Who, Where, How and Why of Press Releases
As we alluded to above, a press release addresses the six basic elements of any major event: What, When, Who, Where, How and Why. But what exactly do we mean when we say “What, When, Who, Where, How and Why” – and how can you adapt it for both on and offline success?
What — Press Release Content
You may be sick of hearing this from us, but we will never EVER stop saying it. Quality content is crucial. Crucial to your readership. Crucial to how people interact with your content. Which finally, is crucial to your all-important search engine results. (If we could figure out another way to drive home the crucial-ness, we totally would. Because it is…well, you know).
Press release content is no different. Quality content is king in this realm, too. This is because the audience (more on that in a second) expects a specific format and impeccable grammar.
Traditionally, in a well-organized press release, the key details of the event were addressed in order of importance. That’s it. No embellishment. No sales-y pitches. Just the facts in a succinct, well-researched manner.
Today, many of the same press release standards are in place. The easily accessible facts are a must. The absence of sales-speak is just as important. The format – mandatory. But in the fast-paced Internet world, where an online magazine or blog may grab your press release in full, a few updates are in order. Dry content is out. Engaging readability is in. Here are just a couple of our expert press release tips.
- Attention-Grabbing Headline: Internet readers’ attention spans are notoriously short. So gaining their attention in a crowded, information-overload setting is the first step to making sure your information is distributed successfully. Ok, quick! Which article would you click on?
Computer Store Announces New Location
Thousands Await Life-Changing Technology to Move In Just Down the Street
You’re right, both convey the same information, but one has you ready for more, while the other is equivalent to a copy desert – dry and without hope. So garner your press release — and thus your store opening — interest with click-enticing headlines.
- Quirky Quotes: Give your press release a unique voice by getting the principles in on the story. Don’t simply quote the facts, “The store will break ground in May 2014.” Quote reactions to the facts. If the storeowner says something like, “The store will break new ground with technology people have only seen in sci-fi movies.” That, my friends, is the quote you want.
And remember, even if your article is not picked up in full, these facts provide a much-needed backbone for potential news articles, blogs and social media updates. We’ll show you how to effectively bring social media into the mix in a moment. But first…
When — What kind of event calls for a Press Release?
First and foremost, a press release must be news worthy. Don’t waste people’s precious time and patience with bland announcements. Reserve the power of the press release for true, industry-rocking events, milestones, or projects. The same computer company who used a press release to spread the word on their groundbreaking store can also use a press release to communicate:
- Carrying or Developing an Innovative Product
- Hosting Grand-Opening Event
- Hiring a World-Renowned Computer Guru as their CEO
- Offering a New 24-Hour Home Service
Avoid tactics like scheduling weekly releases. In the absence of true news, you’ll likely have to resort to unfortunate hyperbole — “We’re the ONLY ones with mouse pads” — about mundane things. Also, don’t use a press release to spread bad news. Much like an attention-grabbing headline, the subject matter must be intoxicating enough to stop people in their tracks.
To keep your content strategy on track, before you order a press release, ask yourself a few questions:
- What news am I breaking to my audiences?
- Why should they care about this event?
- Is this information “rare, customized, and scintillating”? (Thanks to Forbes for adding those awesome adjectives to the mix)
If an answer to any of these questions doesn’t readily come to mind, you may need to hold off on an official release and downgrade to a tweet or blog post instead.
Who — The Audience
Traditional: Press releases were (and are) written for reporters and editors in hopes that they would, in turn, write a news story about your big event, milestone or project. This is why press releases must be to the point (300-500 words), easily scannable and in the approved PR format.
In the wake of shrinking media departments, press releases are actually needed more than ever. A well-executed press release offers time-crunched journalists all the information they need for your business’ story on a silver platter. Just remember, shoddy writing will land your release in the trash bin as fast as a boring headline will be ignored by a scrolling Internet surfer. In a crowded reporter’s inbox, one typo could be the death of THAT press release, at least.
Modern: Reporters still produce news stories, but they aren’t the only people or entities who wield the public ear. A well-crafted press release, with its fact-rich introduction, meaty quote and stat-filled copy, and company-highlighting boilerplate, may hit a blogger, influential tweeter or niche Google+ circle at just the right time. Our increasingly connected world (Google, social media, blogs) only helps press releases gain greater reach. They may not be used verbatim (likely won’t) but your name and your story can still get out there.
With an Internet audience in mind, it may be tempting to pad your copy with ill-fitting keywords. But don’t. Not only are you ALWAYS supposed to be writing for people, but also Google has become wise to link building schemes. This isn’t cause for sadness. Instead, let it encourage you to create quality content to get those facts out there! The International Manufacturing Technology Show (IMTS) offers a couple general rules to keeping both Google and your readers happy.
1. Keep your links down to about every 100 words or so.
2. Include only one anchor-text link in the product’s name
Where — Venues to Spread the Word
Social media is conversational and emotional. How does that fit with a press release and its no-nonsense format? Using strategic planning, here’s how the Internet and press releases can make a fabulous pair.
- Post to a Specific Audience: If you do want to post your release in its entirety to a social media platform, you may want to consider communicating it to a specialized audience. We’d recommend trying this tactic with a carefully curated Google+ circle or community. Google+ is less about catching up with high-school buddies than it is about connecting with people who are into the same things that you are into. So if you have a circle of Mac lovers, why not share your company’s press release on its newest Mac help service. You’re likely to find a captive audience eager to interact with your niche content. You can try the same technique with Facebook or LinkedIn Groups and Twitter hashtags. Plus, by sharing with a dedicated audience first, you’ll build their loyalty. You’re effectively saying, “We really appreciate you and thought you should know this before anyone else.”
- Get the Conversation Going: While PRWeb Social Media Community Officer Stacey Acevero agrees wholeheartedly that companies should post press releases to social media, she cautions with a few guidelines. She suggests starting a conversation by:
○ Asking a question
○ Cracking a joke
○ Presenting a thought-provoking observation
○ Sharing a surprising stat
○ Giving a great tip
She argues that just posting the headline will seem spammy and not get your message anywhere. We tend to agree. Social media is supposed to be social first and foremost.
- Up the Engagement: Yes, press release format is crucial, but with the Internet and social media audience to consider, the addition of multimedia content can do wonders for getting people to your release. Consider adding an image or video to your release. This is the type of content social media users love to interact with, so why not give it to them?
How — How to Distribute Beyond Your Networks
Ok, how can you reach even more folks than your own social media networking will allow? It’s hard to compete with the number of media eyeballs you can get in front of by sending your press release to a distribution service like PR Newswire.
The Power of Distribution:
With a rich, 60-year history, PR Newswire has amassed a huge, dynamic media audience. Have a story with international ramifications? They have nearly 50,000 distribution points abroad, plus translation services. And with 10,000 U.S. news outlets, they have your domestic stories more than covered as well.
Using PR Newswire’s network is not like shooting in the dark. They are able to specialize the audience from communicating with an entire industry down to contacting an individual reporter.
PR Newswire also realizes the power a tweet or Facebook post can have. If that is where your audience hangs out, that is where they will market your release. They will also distribute tweets to industry relevant feeds.
If you can find a company with an ample supply of professional press release writers on deck, access to distribution services AND quality social media management packages, then you, my friend, have hit the content campaign jackpot.
Why — What’s the Point?
Press releases are still a key way to make sure your news is distributed in a timely, attention-grabbing manner. New technology has not decreased the relevancy of the press release. It’s just given you more ways to get the word out. From clever tweets to visually engaging content, social media and blogging can work in your press release’s favor.