10 Tips for Writing a Perfect Press Release
Most businesses realize that press releases still constitute an important part of their marketing program; a well-written press release can be highly effective in garnering attention for a business, this effect is multiplied when frequent press releases are distributed.
So how can you write an effective press release?
- Keep it brief – a press release should be a ‘teaser’, aimed at driving traffic to your website. It is not a vehicle for going into extensive history or background on your business, nor for giving excessive detail on sales, products, or promotions. All of that information will be on your site and will be revealed when readers click on the links in the press release. The optimum length for a release has been proven to be 250-350 words; online attention spans are short!
- Avoid making it too advertorial – a press release should not be a thinly disguised advertisement or sales pitch; not only is that not its purpose but press release distribution companies may – quite rightly – refuse to publish it if they feel this guideline is being compromised.
- Make it newsworthy – remember that a press release is news – as such there must be some item of news that the release focuses on, new information that will be of interest to the average reader and catch their attention. The focus could be many things: an important new hire; recent business expansion; awards your business has won; a celebrity who has endorsed your business; a special event the business featured in; a change of business premises; the launch of a new product; the launch of a new website; or an event you are about to hold.
- Think carefully about your headline – folllowing point #3, an attention-catching headline is essential. When press releases appear online, most readers glance through the headlines and will never read further unless they see something that intrigues them. To give credibility, your company name must appear in either the heading or sub-heading also.
- Introduce your main message in the opening paragraph – as previously stated, attention spans are short and you may have as few as 30 seconds to grab your reader’s attention. Don’t expect the reader to trawl through till the middle or even the end of your release to try and discover the message you are trying to convey!
- Keep in mind you target audience – online releases will usually give you the opportunity to select four or five industries to target. A release aimed at everyone will likely be read by no-one. This is particularly important if your business is very locally or community based, or if you offer a ‘niche’ service or product. Your specialized climbing equipment, however wonderful it may be, will not be of much interest to those outside the hiking or climbing fraternity. Having selected your target industries, make sure you are ‘speaking’ directly to them and addressing their interests and needs.
- Include a quote – a quote adds credibility to your release and it must cite the source, both by name and position. If the source is a member of the senior management team, that is fine – in fact, this is where you can get away with being more advertorial, promoting your business’s strengths within the quote. If your source is a satisfied customer, that is also fine, though the more ‘standing’ the customer has, the more credible the quote becomes.
- Include limited links – this has now become so important that perhaps it should have been point #1! In the not-so-distant past, press releases were packed with high-frequency keywords and phrases designed to be picked up in Google searches, often to the point of producing almost unreadable prose that oozed keywords in every sentence but made little sense. Additionally, releases would be peppered with links to the company’s website. No more! Google – and the general public – caught on to this a while ago and businesses attempting to distribute press releases stuffed with keywords, or with multiple links will almost certainly be flagged for spamming. At Prompt Proofing we suggest an absolute maximum of three links – only one of which should be to the main website.
- End on a strong note – you may choose to end with a call to action, or simply refer people to your website for further information. Alternatively your final sentence could be a quick – and brief – summary of your main point, serving as a reminder of your key message.
- Proofread your release – as with any business document, it’s essential to re-read thoroughly and carefully before publishing – preferably have at least two readers check it through. If there are typos or grammatical errors you will appear unprofessional. However, you should also be checking that your message comes across loud and clear – preferably in the opening paragraph (see point #5). If you’re referencing a coming event, have you given date, time and place? Is anything ambiguous? If so, now is the time to fix it!
At Prompt Proofing, press release writing is one of our most popular services, If you’re not confident about your ability to write an effective release, or are just too busy, feel free to reach out to us.