The number of truly atrocious press releases floating around the net is horrifying. It’s astounding to think some companies don’t worry about their brand being associated with poorly written content that does nothing for their image, let alone their revenue. A high quality press release doesn’t have to cost a bomb, but it should at least contain all the elements that make it effective.
We’re not talking about components like the dateline, contact information, and three #’s to signal the end of your communication. We’re referring to press release parts that help you make the most of your marketing dollars by doing what they’re designed to do. Press releases, when written properly, can be powerful publicity generators. Therefore, it’s time to stop creating duds that put massive holes in your marketing budget without producing much ROI.
Know When to Send Out a Release
Much of the problem lies in knowing when to publish a news release. Press releases are not advertisements. They are news stories that announce major events in the life of your company. Therefore, you should treat them as such.
Here is a general list of appropriate times to issue a release:
- The launch of new ventures, products, or services
- Events such as conferences and trade shows
- New hires
- Strategic alliances or joint ventures
- Openings and expansions
- Certifications and awards
- Financial reports – E.g. Profit increases
- Contests and giveaways
- Fundraising and charity events in which your business is involved
- Sales and special discounts
- Results of industry research your company conducts
Beware of blindly pushing out communications that fail to add value. They’ll most likely end up in the trashcans and email bins of journalists and other community influencers you don’t want to annoy.
Crucial Press Release Elements That Demand Special Attention
# The Headline
Attention-grabbing, concise, and compelling are just a few words to describe a powerful headline. Yours needs to be powerful if you want your press release to be effective. The headline must be bold, contain a subject and action verb, include a keyword or company name, and clearly state your news announcement. If possible, you should also include a benefit.
# The Subtitle/Summary
One or two sentences in length, this element is one you should definitely use to your advantage. Although some would say you don’t need to include it, it’s a great way to entice readers who skim copy. Make sure your subtitle provides further insight into what the release is about and craft it in such a way that it compels people to carry on reading.
# The Lead Paragraph
Besides answering the who, what, when, where, and why of your news, this paragraph is crucial for building interest. Sometimes, it’s the only paragraph a journalist or blogger reads before deciding whether to continue. As a result, you need to ensure you get your message across by including key information.
# The Body
Once your first few statements have persuaded readers that you actually have something noteworthy to say, you need to provide details about your announcement. The body of your press release could include benefits, key features, event details, explanations, and other bits of information that help communicate your story. When creating the body, make certain you clearly position your brand, product, or service.
Tips for shaping the body of your content:
- Write in a journalistic, factual style.
- Stick to one point.
- Speak to the needs of your target audience.
- Be relevant.
- Include a suitable quote from a customer, analyst, or senior representative of your company to help strengthen the newsworthiness and credibility of your press release.
- Include relevant information, such as statistics, pricing, and availability.
# The Boilerplate
This final element contains company information that highlights the basics or your business’s history, as well as any special credentials. Your boilerplate should be a short paragraph describing what your business does, what it stands for, and why it is unique. Make sure the information is accurate and that you do not use sales-orientated terminology.
The Online Factor
Besides the elements mentioned above, you should consider optimizing your news release for search engines and readers. Ensuring your content includes targeted keywords, as well as anchor text, is just one way to improve your site’s ranking. However, you should also take into account that some distribution services allow you include videos, images, and documents that make for dynamic storytelling. The better you tell your story, the better your chance of finding success with your press release.
Keep in mind that as long as your optimized press release remains online, it will continue to work for your business. Even if it isn’t picked up by a journalist or blogger, it can still help drive traffic and increase your online visibility.
- Avoid hype. Press releases have no room for hyperbole and unnecessary exclamation marks.
- Proofread. Silly mistakes like typos are completely avoidable.
- Make certain contact information for you or your PR representative is included and correct. News is time-sensitive, so you need to ensure journalists can follow-up quickly and easily.
- Follow the format expected of a press release. Journalists are exposed to articles, advertisements, and other promotional materials on a daily basis. Therefore, you need to make sure you follow a format that distinguishes your piece as a press release.
- Look for a fresh angle before writing your content. Cookie-cutter press releases are boring, and journalists have seen thousands of them. You need to present your story in a way that makes people sit up and take notice of your news.
- Make sure your announcement is an appropriate length. A good press release word count should fit between the 300 – 800 word marks. If it’s less than 300, you may be missing important details. If it’s more than 800, your release may be wordy and include irrelevant detail.
Ultimately, your press release should be effective in grabbing attention and generating interest. You never know when your business will benefit because your news landed in the right hands and made enough impact to make it into prominent publications.
Have you had much success writing press releases? Let us know what you struggle with the most by leaving a comment.