- Address your audience - the media - appropriately.
- Use a powerful opening.
- Identify your angle - and make it different.
- Communicate your story.
- Eliminate excess.
- Use industry lingo sparingly.
- Act and be direct.
- Use facts.
- Get it in writing.
- Describe your company and its activities.
- Remove formatting.
- Use the Write Balance(TM).
Address your audience - the media - appropriately.
If you write your release directed to consumers, you miss valuable opportunities for media outlets - frequently those online - which pick up press releases to run in their publications with little or no modification. Press releases written as sales pieces will be ignored - in their entirety - and set you up for developing a reputation of sending sales pieces, not real news. Often journalists use press releases as the basis for feature story that incorporate what you have written. In the body of the release, understand that the points you make - and the order in which you make them - may direct the journalist in how to develop that story.
Use a powerful opening.
Convey your message quickly and concisely - use your headline and first paragraph effectively. If journalists were to read only that portion of your release, there should be enough information to understand what the release is about. The body of the release identifies supporting information.
Identify your angle - and make it different.
Understanding why journalists would find your story interesting is the key in getting recognition. While we would all like coverage, uncovering what specifically makes your business or service truly unusual or makes you different from your competition is crucial. If you have trouble doing that, seek out the opinion of current or new customers, or ask us for advice. Can you link your press release to current events or social issues?
Communicate your story.
You might be tempted to include references to customers who have used your product or service successfully. Including testimonials may be effective in persuading potential customers to buy from you, but they do not encourage members of the media to write about your company. Describe how your company uncovered a need in the community and how your solution met it. Clearly note benefits of using your product or service - without overstating them.
Work on establishing credibility with the media. Don't stray from clarity or try to sell. Make your release speak to journalists by using effective combinations of words - you'll be far more effective at capturing attention - the right kind - without the use of exclamation points.
Use industry lingo sparingly.
What would be appropriate if you were sending your release to professionals in your industry will not be the same for appealing to a general audience.
Act and be direct.
Convey your news directly. Evoke the sense of movement by using words that echo the feeling of a conversation you would speak out loud. Use the words you need to - no more, no less. Keep it simple.
Journalists are trained to question and verify. They will read between your statements and pick them apart. Overblown claims do immediate damage and ensure your release is ignored. While you are working to convince them what you claim is truthful, you must attempt to establish credibility early in your release - then communicate your excitement about your product or service. One of the best places to share your enthusiasm is in a quote, rather than in the body of the release.
Get it in writing.
Protect your company - get authorization to use references from employees or affiliates of other companies or organizations in writing. Do additional homework and verify information provided to you with another person. A word about ticker symbols from public companies you reference in your release - use caution. These companies have an established reputation; if you trade on it by using the goodwill associated with their names, you are exposing your company to ramifications if these companies percieve your association as detrimental.
Describe your company and its activities.
Tell the media what your company is all about with a concluding summary that describes your company, products, service and a short company history. Remember press releases issued by more than one company should include descriptions of both.
Since press releases are distributed in a wide variety of ways, including over some antiquated wire service networks, special formatting conversion inserts strange characters making your press release more difficult to read. Remove any HTML, XML or other special formatting to ensure your release looks good. If you're in doubt, use a plain text editor, like Notepad, to review your release.
Use the Write Balance(TM).
Press releases that contain only a sentence or two may tell the story if it is announcing a management change, for example. It is more likely, however, that an explanation of the new person's background is appropriate. Use what you need to convey your message - again, no more, no less.
Write press release headlines and content using the right balance.
Press releases that address the end-users of your product or service should be balanced with the needs of the media, Addressing your audience in the third-person - which means eliminating the use of the word "you" from your vocabulary - can be a challenge. A well-written press release encourages the media to take note of the information you are communicating, and it increases the likelihood the media will be encouraged to follow-up for more. While your ultimate goal is to increase business, a press release forum is not the medium to disseminate advertising or to sell. If you struggle with writing, contact our staff to ask for feedback or request professional press release writing services.
Don't be flagrant.
Aside from sounding like a sales or marketing piece, using characters outside the standard alphabet to emphasize certain points in your headline or in the body of your release will likely be caught by spam filters, preventing your release from reaching the intended recipients. Exclamation points (!) and asterisks (*) do much to detract from the message you are trying to convey - aside from damaging the credibility of your press release. Overuse of words like "exciting" and "unique" have jaded the media - use alternate vocabulary to make your product or service stand apart from your competitors. Be sure if you make claims about your company that the claims can stand up against the intense scrutiny of journalists.
Avoid using UPPER CASE characters.
Studies have identified that text written in all upper case characters is not only significantly more difficult to read, it evokes an emotional response from readers, as if you are screaming at them. Headlines and content releases must be provided in mixed case - upper and lower case.
Clean up grammatical errors - alone or with professional assistance.
While you may be working against a deadline to submit your release, note that the extra time allocated to ensure your release is error-proof will pay off in the long run - by appearing professional and polished. Using a spell-checker is not enough. Words like "from" are easily missed when spelled "form". A time-proven method for error-checking is to start at the bottom, and read from RIGHT to LEFT, moving UP the release. We have a tendency to read quickly when proofing - using this method ensures you take the time to actually read each word and check each punctuation mark. If you are tempted to write your release during the submission process - don't. Our copywriting staff is available to help you prepare or edit your release either at 973.252.0999 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Use industry lingo sparingly.
Using a lofty vocabulary to impress the reader with your written prowess doesn't - and doesn't make it easier for journalists on a tight deadline to use your release because they then must translate it into layman's terms. Communicate your information in terms that are easy to understand - many people write the way they speak, ensuring a larger population grasps the concepts or ideas. If, however, there are industry-specific terms that will be lost if translated, or they are accepted in the industry, use them. Don't, however, make up words in an effort to catch journalists' attention - those kinds of things interrupt the reader's train of thought. And if it's confusing, more likely than not, you've lost the reader.
Address content issues.
Press releases that either communicate an offensive message or don't provide enough detail about a subject will be rejected. You may be tempted to try to make your story "mysterious" or believe your press release will be effective at enticing a journalist to visit a website for additional detail if your release only contains a few words - you would be mistaken. Although it is important to be concise in conveying your message, leaving out pertinent information that addresses the who, what, where, when, why and how can do as much harm as submitting a 2,000 word release. A good rule of thumb is to keep your release around 500 words when possible, as long as it meets that criteria. Consult our expert copywriters for additional ideas.
Clear up non-ASCII characters.
When you copy and paste your release, special characters may be converted - for example, the trademark, copyright and registration mark, and ampersand symbols. Be sure to review your release before submission to be sure you replace this conversions with characters in parentheses - (TM), (R), (C) - and "and."
Eliminate manual line breaks.
Affecting the display of your content are hard returns at the end of a line of text. Be sure to remove them - use returns only at the end of each paragraph.
Include contact information.
Incorrect or incomplete contact information for a release is discouraging to the media. Be sure to include current information for at least one person designated at your company to field inquiries from journalists who receive your release.
Make product/service detail available online.
It's important to make additional information available online - and to include that reference either in your release or contact information. The industry also recognizes the value of including multimedia elements - photos, charts, graphics - and journalists are always looking for these. If you don't have a Web site, contact us about adding a custom company newsroom and your company logo affordably.