I don’t care what anyone says – the news release is alive and well is one of the most important PR Tools. Here are some press release tips and my newest thinking in how to write a news release.
Its purpose is clear: inform the media. Provide greater exposure and credibility for your business. Add to SEO. If a magazine, newspaper, or online publication picks up your story, the benefits are enormous. Without a press release, there is no story.
Why is publicity so credible and so different from advertising? In an age of influencers and social media, let’s remind ourselves that third-party (media or social platform) endorsements are alive and well, too. The general population is more likely to trust a third-party source such as reviewer, columnist, or reporter. The believable third party delivers the information. In advertising the advertiser controls the message. Consumers know it’s a paid advertisement and they may be skeptical of the claims being made.
To create a press release that catches the attention of a journalist here are some basic tips you should follow when writing your press release.
1. Use the correct press release format.
For a release to be taken seriously it must be easy to read. With all the correspondence editors receive, they usually to publish or not as a snap judgment. There are many acceptable formats. Even so, try these press release tips; They have worked for the PR Writer.
Brands are important. Highlight them in all releases. Include logos, taglines, and important identifying information like how to reach you so media can follow up – though it will be mostly you making the calls. Even dates are important, allowing editors to confirming that it’s timely and check when it was released.
2. Press release headline tips: Grab their attention.
Write a strong, attention-grabbing headlinein one line or less. The normal rules of grammar do not apply in headlines. Headlines must be compressed tightly. A classic example is Headless Body in Topless Bar. Notice there is no verb or words like the or an. Use strong powerful verbs. Study tabloid newspaper headline styleand it’s all explained there. Everything happens in life in 15 seconds – you can decide a mate or accept a news release – make those 15 seconds count in a headline.
3. How to write a press release: make sure your story is newsworthy
Before you begin, ask the following questions:
- Would anyone outside my organization care about this announcement?
- Is this story relevant AND interesting to my target audience?
If you have answered an honest ‘yes’ to these questions, then keep going. If not, put the press release away. Wait until there is something worthwhile to release. Otherwise, you lose credibility with journalists. They have been sent too many un newsworthy press releases.
4. More press release guideline tips: Include the date
Include the dateline. Tell the media where the press release comes from, or where your company is located. It’s especially important for regional magazines or when announcing an event. The Associated Press Stylebookor similar Canadian Pressversion are the go-to guide how to write a news release.
Next is the lead and body of your press release. The lead, or first sentence, is just as crucial as the headline. It should also recap the headline; it is connected to the headline. In effect, the news in the headline must be found in the lead. It should be full of information and answer most, if not all, of the 5 Ws. (Who, what, when, where, why and how) It should leave your reader wanting more.
Journalism writing, short and to the point must be concise and without fluff. Keep it short; one page is usually more than enough. Save the creativity and humor for feature stories. Use quotations to reinforce your main point.
Remember, a journalist may end up using your quote in their story word for word. Make sure it includes the release’s main message and that it sounds like a real person. Think about it: does it sound like something that person would say? If quoting someone in your organization, person better know their stuff – and answer any media requests.
5. Make connecting easy.
It’s usually good to end with your company’s boilerplate statement. Every company should have a general boilerplate statement that describes the company. A few sentences that summarize the company’s history and offerings can go along way if you use it consistently.
Again, be sure to include your contact information for follow-up. When sending your release to media representatives, it is usually best to copy and paste it into the message of an e-mail. Most editors will not open attachments from unknown sources.
6. Additional press release guidelines: Figure out who is most likely to pick up your story
Constantly changing, and shrinking terribly and sadly, the media landscape is difficult to keep up with and keep track of who is working (or not working) — and where. Maintaining media lists and keeping up with all the media moves is nearly impossible. That’s why a trustworthy media contact database that is constantly reviewed and updated is worth its weight in gold. There are a few companies like Cision that provide searchable data bases, But before picking one, make sure it includes the desirable regional, global or industry publications. Check how they ensure their information is up to date, although even in days of media stability that was almost always out of date.
7. Go beyond the wire
Your job isn’t over once you’ve sent out a release on the wire. Reach out to a few of the journalists or influencers and send an email about your release — paste your release into the email with a short summary. Include images or links to videos that provide more details, but no attachments. Files clogging inboxes won’t win any friends.
8. Press Release format
Show you know who you’re pitching, so press releases looks less like mass e-mails. Change up the subject line and first paragraph depending on what industry the magazine is targeting. The principle is:
Make it as easy for journalists in whatever you do. They must generate ideas and work rapidly; include other article/post ideas—just a headline and quick description and how you can help. Incorporate different viewpoints and products in addition to your own.
For a release to be worthwhile outside of just being company news, it must connect to larger trends happening globally. Connect your news to the bigger picture. Add value. How is this news is relevant beyond the release itself? What does it mean to customers and consumers?
9. Press Release Tips: story within the story
Find the story within the story. If you are giving a charitable donation highlight the charity and explain what it plans to do with the funds, explain and how it might make a difference. Include photos of the donation. Think in terms of providing a package of storytelling, quotes, and photos to make a reporter’s life easy.
10. Tips for Writing a Press Release: research
Before writing the press release, research should be done on what the media has been covering in recent weeks or months. Re-angle your press release to discuss how your new product, service, or award is relevant to the issue. Remember that journalists don’t care about your product or your company (unless you are an industry giant), so you have to make them understand the value of your press release in the context of the whole industry.
Proofread your press release — and make it grammatically flawless. Let some others read it as well — before sending it out. Even a single mistake can dissuade a reporter from taking it seriously.
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