The press release is still as relevant and powerful in this age of social media as it was when we only relied on the traditional media to get information.
Among other essential qualities, a killer press release must be punchy and compelling and provide important and newsy details about your product release, event announcement, or other information about your business or organisation that may be of interest to the journalist or the public.
But what’s the ideal length of a press release? And what kind of information should you include? Here are 35 powerful tips to help you get started:
Make sure your story is newsworthy
Before you even try to write a press release, ask yourself what are the kinds of stories you like to read, watch and listen to in the media. Generally, people are interested in stories that stir their curiosity, about things they haven’t heard before, or that surprises them, or that could help solve their problem.
So, do you think your story is newsworthy? Here are elements in your story to help you determine that:
- Is there anything “new” in the story?
- Is there anything unusual or unexpected about it?
- Outside of the company or organisation, would the story be of interest to others?
- Will anyone really care?
The last point sound especially harsh, but is probably the most important factor to consider when writing a press release. Your company’s product launch or upcoming event may excite you, but does it interest anyone else? If you’re not absolutely sure about that, put a hold on the story until you’ve got a better one.
Craft a hook
Recall that time when you had a song stuck in your head and you just can’t shake a chorus or beat in it? That’s how a great hook feels.
Just as in pop music, a great hook is central to writing a killer press release. A great hook will help you tell a remarkable story. It will engage the curiosity of your readers and move them to want to find out more.
But how do you find an interesting hook to your story?
Do a research on other press releases and blog posts by your competitors that got significant press coverage. Study the hooks in the story that caught the interest of the media and the public, and utilize those successes as a guideline to craft your own killer press release.
Also, remember to keep an eye on the content type and style your audience is reacting to and/or sharing.
You must be aware that journalists are swamped with press releases from different companies and organisations who want media coverage for their event or new product. Except your company is an Apple, Google or Microsoft, journalists will always be choosy about which press release to publish.
To get noticed, you have to be different with a good story angle that’s relevant and topical. Anything else would look like a distraction to the journalist.
Write a killer headline
The headline is the first thing that is scanned; and so is your first opportunity to catch interest. Most journalists’ emails boxes are bulging with emails every day, so a good idea to get quickly noticed is to label your press release email appropriately with a “press release” or “story idea” tag. Your subject line must also be striking.
But don’t embellish an empty story or try to be clever. A trained journalist will see through the chaff in seconds and will ignore your email if he doesn’t understand it or find anything interesting about it.
If you are able to grab a journalist’s attention with a striking headline, he’ll move on to the first paragraph to get more convinced. You’ll only get a journalist to read entire content and likely use your story if it scales this hurdle.
Journalists don’t have a lot of time, and make quick decisions about the newsworthiness of a story based on the headlines and the first paragraph. He is trained to quickly scan for the what, who, where, when, why and how in a potential story. Therefore, as much as you can, briefly provide the answers to these questions in your first paragraph. You can then give details in the body of the story.
Keep it short & simple
Don’t forget the KISS (keep it short & simple) principle always works and sustains the reader’s interest. Don’t waffle. Use bullet points where necessary to summarise factual information or statistics without taking up valuable space.
Ensure your story relevant and current
Make sure the content of your press release is in the area of interest of the journalist. Do your research on the previous stories and blogs published by the journalist, and ask yourself if your press release will fit in and interest the readers. Ask yourself too if your story is relevant and current.
Break your news up
At no time in history has the reader’s attention span been as short as in this social media age. The average news reader doesn’t have so much time on his hand and has so much information to digest.
So, make it easy for him to scan and grab the juice of the story as quickly as possible. Don’t make your story a monotonous whole. Break it up and make it breath with punchy and direct sub-headers, bullet points, big data et cetera.
Keep your goal in mind
Remember the press release is targeted at your primary audience or product consumer; and not crafted to make the company CEO or VPs happy. Go straight for the major issues and leave out unnecessary details about the business or agency that no reporter or reading public is actually interested in.
Your goal with every press release is to whet the reporter’s appetite that he’ll want to immediately call back for more information and can’t wait to publish the full story.
Make it grammatically flawless
Make your story read compellingly and flawlessly before sending it out. Proofread well and make sure there are no grammatically mistakes that’ll keep a journalist from taking you seriously.
Include hard facts and figures
It’s great to make your story read flawlessly and in an engaging way. But never lose sight of the fact that a press release is essentially a tool to inform the public about an important event or product news from your company and put the organisation in a good light.
So, don’t just give a creative, colourful narrative; add hard facts and figures to quantify your arguments or emphasize the points you’ve made in the story.
Include quotes whenever possible
Quotes are essential in press release to add an element of order and authenticity.
Aim for one page— plus half page at the maximum
Good writing eliminates waffles and is no shorter than it should be. In fact, the more concise the story is, the better. An ideal press release should be confined to a single page, maybe slightly spilled over to the next page. But don’t make it longer than a page and half.
Knowing that you have limited space to write your story with facts and a persuasive quality should help you create a punchy, newsy press release that journalists love.
Avoid jargon and buzzwords
Press releases are different from internal memos and company newsletters in which you could get away with technical buzzwords and industry jargon.
While members of your professional group or company staff may understand what you mean or are getting at, jargon and buzzwords may confuse the reading public and make them lose interest in your message. Where necessary, replace with simple, more relatable terms for the public.
Acronyms and abbreviations are another way to jargonize your content, because you assume the target audience knows what the shortened terms mean. Sometimes, people just use them so they can come off as technically sound and clever, without realising they’re actually communicating the opposite.
Tell a story
Your press release should tell a story. That’s what people want to hear – a story that affects them and promise a solution to their problems.
Create an argument
If you can’t tell an interesting story, at least create a compelling argument in your press release. Using the Pyramid principle of storytelling, state a problem that the readers can relate to, and explain how your company’s product or service can solve it.
Aim for clarity
Is your story plain and lucid with all the important facts, figures and information? Here’s a good way to check. Give your completed press release to someone who doesn’t work at your company to read without giving the person a hint about what the story is about. Then ask the person what he thinks the story is about. That will give you a clue about whether your story has clarity or needs a little rework.
Don’t try to be too smart
You could instantly put off readers straight from the headline if you try to sound too clever with it. If you’re in doubt, tone it down a little bit.
Create a sense of place
A good press release should not just provide information on “what,” “who,” “when” and “how” of the story. It should also tell “where.” Give the readers a sense of a real place where the story happened to ground it and add credibility. And the story doesn’t always have to take place in a corporate setting.
Let the news reveal personality
Just as giving the readers a clear sense of “where” in the story make sure to also make sure the answers to the “who,” as well as other key elements in the story, are unambiguous. Capturing a sense of real people gives the story more credibility and authenticity.
Let your press release reveal specific personalities in the story and tell the reader who the actors are, what they are like, how they talk, and so forth – in as few words as you can. Just doing this can help animate your whole press release.
Express your client’s tone of voice
Your client should have an identifiable, likable voice in the market. Make sure it comes through in the story or create one, if they don’t have.
Use everyday words and phrases
Write like you would speak or explain to an intelligent friend. Avoid tedious, formal, corporate-speak that sounds like a legal document or an insurance contract.
The active voice is always punchier and more direct when communicating a message.
Box out the key points
More than 50% of your target readers will ignore your press release. Improve your chances of being read by boxing out the key ideas in short bullet points.
Don’t go round in circles
Avoid over-qualifying sentences and beating around the bush. Be concise. Be more assertive.
Don’t make up quotes
Some readers can see through it and it could make your story look turgid and lose credibility.
Avoid quoting the usual suspects
It is vital that the quote is by someone that is central to the product or event in the story, and this doesn’t always have to be the usual suspects ––the VPs and the CEOs.
Use real interviews
Real interviews with key people is one of the most important elements to give the story more authenticity.
Don’t sound sales-y
Aim at getting your story out there; and cut out words that may sound sales-y or like an advertisement.
Add videos, photos, links and other important resources a reporter may need for further information to fully report the news.
Include your contact information
Make sure to provide a contact person with an email and phone that can provide any important details for the reporter when contacted.
Round off with bang
Put in the same level of creativity and thought into your last sentence as you did in crafting a killer headline and a compelling first few paragraphs.
Use a spell checker
It’s human to sometimes make mistakes. Use spell checkers to correct typos.
You certainly don’t want to see misspelling errors in names and titles in your published press release. So, check and check again.
A well written constructed press release can be an effective public relations tool and help a business or organization tell a story, report new, or help a cause. To get the right and good press coverage for your company or agency, an effective press release writing skill is a must. If you need professional copywriters for you, then get sign up for an account today here.