Five Tips For Writing A Solid Press Release

October 16, 2012

Even in today’s world of social media, the power of the press release cannot be ignored. Whether you’re announcing a new product, a new location or even a new hire, it’s a good idea to get the word out to your buddies in the media.

However, a poorly written press release is about as valuable as the paper it’s printed on (which is nothing, because no one prints things anymore). Here are few tips to ensure that your press release gets you the results you’re looking for.

Find a newsworthy topic

Choosing a topic for a press release is different than choosing a topic for, say, your site’s blog. Unlike other types of content, press releases serve three purposes: SEO value, informing the public about your company, and letting journalists know that you’ve got something newsworthy going on in the hopes that they might actually want to follow up on it.

Since the third one is what really dictates your topic choice, as well as pretty much everything about your press release, that’s the one we’re focusing on today.

There are plenty of newsworthy events that warrant a press release, such as:

  • Hiring a new executive
  • Moving to a new location
  • Offering a new product/deal
  • Signing a high-profile customer
  • A merger or new partnership

Make it skimable

Making your content easy to read is important no matter what you’re writing. The fact is that people don’t want to spend a whole lot of time plodding their way through a long-winded piece of content that dances around the point before finally and at long last arriving at a drawn out and anticlimactic conclusion. (See how annoying that was?)

The journalist is even worse. They may receive thousands of press releases a day, and have absolutely zero interest in trying to read all of them in-depth. Most of the time, they will just skim it to get a basic idea of what it’s about, and then move on.

With that in mind, it’s important that your press release is very easy to read very quickly. Keep your paragraphs down to one or two sentences, and make sure to stick to just one point per paragraph.

Also, make sure that the point of each paragraph is in the first sentence. That may be as far as most journalists get.

And finally, make sure to include hyperlinks to relevant pages on your website. If you’re writing about a new product, link to its description on your site.

Stick to the inverted pyramid

In keeping with our theme of “get your point across quick,” I’m going to introduce you to a concept that anyone who’s ever taken a basic level journalism class should already be familiar with.

I’m speaking, of course, of the “inverted pyramid.”

This is a very simple rule of formatting that goes something like this: lead with your most important point, and then work your way down to the least important point.

Basically, you want someone to be able to get the main idea of your press release in the very first paragraph (or “lead,” in journalism lingo), which should be no longer than two sentences.

Example of a good lead: “Internet marketing company National Positions has launched a new Ranking Recovery Program to help companies affected by the Google Penguin and Panda algorithm updates.”

Short, sweet, and to the point. It’s got the most important information to pull the journalist in, and can then be followed up with all the supporting info in the following paragraphs.

Think of the rest of the press release as “bonus information.” The further along someone reads, the more information they have. However, should they stop after the first paragraph, they still know what you’re trying to say.

At the end of your press release, it’s a good idea to include a brief “about us” section for your company. This should just be one or two sentences describing exactly what you do, where you’re located, when you were founded, etc.

Use images/video if applicable

One great way to make your press release stand out is the use of images and video.

Just to be clear, that doesn’t mean you should just do a Google image search for some random picture, slap it on there and call it a day. Use something that’s relevant and preferably original.

For example, if you’ve made a new hire, put their picture in there. If you’ve moved to a new location, take a picture of it. Signed a big new client? Get one of those “handshake” pictures and throw it in.

And let’s not forget about video. If you’re offering a new service, maybe you could make a short video ad for it, and include that in your press release.

Use a distributor

Now that your press release is finished, it’s time to get it out to the world. Trouble is, that can be a bit tricky if you don’t know what you’re doing/don’t have any media contacts.

Lucky for you, there are several distributors that exist for the sole purpose of getting your press release into the right hands. That hyperlink has a top 10 list of the best press release distribution services.

Be advised, though, most of them aren’t free. Although there are free distribution services, most of the best ones do have a fee attached.

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