How to rock your press release
There are numerous different reasons why you might be asked to write a press release, but whether it be announcing an event, promoting a new product or pushing the release of some newsworthy item, there is a helluva lot resting on that document, so you want to make sure your press release is well-written, to the point and relevant to the person you’re sending it to. What you must always keep in mind is the story and ultimately how what you’re promoting can be re-purposed as an article by the journalist you’re sending it to.
The aim of a press release is not just to catch the eye of the reader right from the get-go, and by whatever means possible (although you need to do this as well), it is to keep them on the page and to let them know why they should be interested in writing about what you’ve got to say. A journalist is ultimately interested in a story, not selling your product. So your press release has to sell them a story, preferably written in a similar style to their own articles. This involves research: observe their style, tailor your press release to their needs and give them the story from the headline onwards. In other words give them the complete package; send them the article you think they would want to publish, not necessarily the article you want to publish, and you will have a far greater chance of seeing your story in print. By adopting this approach the journalist or editor has to do as little work as possible to get your story up onto their website or published in their newspaper. Makes sense, right?
Writing a press release is no piece of cake if you’ve never done it before which is why in this article I’m going to give you a break down of four crucial things you need to include in yours to make it stand out from all the others clogging up that poor journalist’s inbox.
1. Write a killer headline
This is perhaps the most obvious one, but also the most important. You need a headline that
- tells the most interesting parts of your story in one sentence
- catches the reader’s attention using interesting language or surprising statistics
- provides an angle of interest to your particular audience (which might involve changing the headline for a number of different publications).
If your headline is also the subject of your email it is even more crucial that your headline prompts a question in the reader’s mind, so that they are inclined to open the email rather than discard it. Make them curious. Make it exciting. But above all, however you might word it, your headline has to be honest. Nothing frustrates a reader more than a headline that doesn’t deliver. You may have gotten them to open that email, or read further down the press release, but as soon as they realise that you’ve promised one thing that you later can’t back up then that reader is gone forever and your future press releases will probably be ignored as well.
How would you feel if the four top tips I promised you in this article only turned out to be three? See what I mean?
2. Put everything in the first line
The first line of your press release is your chance to get all the details of the story across clearly and succinctly. Journalists do not have a lot of time, so you’ll be lucky if they read this one sentence and then scan the rest of the press release for quotes. If you want a tip on how to write the first line of your press release, look in your local or national newspaper at the news articles. There you’ll find a who, what, where, when and why all in the first line of the first paragraph. Journalists will be scanning your press release for these 5 W’s, so make sure you are providing them right at the start.
3. Write it like the article you want to see published
As I mentioned in the intro, if you can write your press release in the style of an article from the journalist you are pitching to, your chances of getting your story published are greatly increased. If your press release looks and feels like the end result, chances are they’ll stick it up on their website/publish it in their newspaper with minimal editing. You’ve just saved them a job! But make sure the angle is right. There’s no point in writing an article in the style of your favourite journalist if they write for car magazines and you’re writing about a bike. Make the angle of the story you are pitching appropriate to each publication. If that means tweaking your press release/headline for each journalist you’re sending it to, then do it. It’ll be worth it when you see your story in print.
4. Use quotable quotes!
Sounds obvious, but quotes are what journalists are looking for when they first scan through your press release so make them memorable and inspirational without being unrealistic. Quotes should not provide information, your first few lines should already have told the journalist everything they need to know, they should instead be personable and emotional, adding a human touch or opinion to the piece. Remember not to use jargon or technical language as quotes have got to sound like something someone actually said. And one last top tip for quotes, if your CEO is feeling uninspired that day, write the quote for him or her which states everything you needed to say, then get their approval. It’ll save them time and you’ll get the perfect two-liner you need to complete your press release.
Looking for someone to write your press release?
Hire the author – John Hardy – now!