Writing a press release doesn’t need to be difficult. Here are 10 tips for writing a successful press release.
1 – You are writing for journalists
Press releases aren’t for customers or consumers they are for reporters, journalists who will use them as a starting point for a larger story or feature. Write your story as you would like to have it told. Press releases written as sales pieces will be completely ignored. The points you make in your press release and the order in which you make them may direct the journalist in how to develop the story.
2 – Start with a strong “lead”
The first paragraph of the press release is known as the “lead”. The lead needs to be strong, communicating your message quickly and concisely. You need to use your headline and first paragraph effectively so that they standalone and that if only those portions were to be read, there would be enough information to understand what the release is about. The rest of your press release should provide the detail. Journalists see maybe thousands of press releases a day, you have a few seconds to grab your their attention.
3 – What is your angle?
The media are always on the look out for a good story. Your press release needs to be more than just. fact, it needs to be newsworthy. Understanding why journalists would find your story interesting is the key to success. Think about the release from the journalist’s point of view, put yourself in their shoes. It is best to make your press release timely and to tie it to current events or social issues if possible. Find a good angle, a good news hook and you have the start of a good press release.
4 – Who, what, where, when and why
A good press release needs to answer all of the “W” questions (who, what, where, when and why), providing the journalist with useful information about your organization, product, service or event. If your press release reads like an advertisement or sales pitch, dump it.
5 – Why should anyone care?
Company launches, new websites and changes of management happen all the time and so aren’t interesting. You need to concentrate on what makes your new company, web site, CEO or product unique. Ask yourself the question, “Why should anyone care?” Concentrate on the aspects of your press release that makes it different.
6 – Add the human touch
Always use real life stories about how your organization identified a problem and solved it. How did your service or product fulfil a need or help the community. Real life examples communicate the benefits of using your product or service in a powerful way.
7 – Keep to the point
Use enough words to tell your story, no more and no less. Don’t pad your release with unnecessary adjectives or flowery language. But at the same time make each word count.
8 – Limit the jargon
The best way to communicate your news is to speak plainly. You may need to use some jargon or industry specific lingo, but limit it to the minimum. Industry specific terms are only understood by people in the same industry where as your press release is aimed at a general readership.
9 – Add an “About” section
Make sure you add an “About” section where you describe your company and services. This will be useful for setting the press release in a context. Don’t forget to add the URL of your website.
10 – Add good contact information
If a journalist picks up on your press release they will want to talk with you. Just adding your website URL isn’t enough. As a minimum you need to add a contact name and an email address. Even better add a phone number where you can be contacted.