If you think issuing press releases in the digital era is a bit old school, it’s time to think again. Yes, every day there are countless numbers of press releases written and many are binned even before they are read, but a well written press release remains a highly effective way to generate free publicity for your business. So, how do you make sure your press release not only gets read but stands out from the crowd? Here are our ten top tips.
1. Do you have something to shout about?
There’s no point trying to create a buzz about a new product, service or innovation unless you have something that is actually worth shouting about. Don’t be too quick to fire out a press release until you’re clear there’s a genuine ‘news’ element to whatever it is you’re doing.
2. Target specific publications or platforms
Ask yourself who is your target audience and which publications or outlets will enable you to reach them. Do some research and get contact details (ideally a contact name as well) for your target publications, especially those who write about your industry. Be sure to send the press release to your local newspaper or media outlets as they are always interested in news from their patch, especially success stories.
3. Write an eye-catching headline
If you’re a natural at writing punchy headlines, great. If not, consider getting some help because there’s no doubt that a compelling or intriguing headline will get your release read. The headline is the first thing the recipient reads and the point is to entice him or her to read on.
4. Get to the point
Follow up a good headline with a compact opening paragraph that contains the key information or message you want to get across. You can go into more detail in subsequent paragraphs but your opener needs to be clear and succinct. Keep all paragraphs brief, avoid overly long sentences and be sure to include a quote from you or another key person in the company. Ideally, the quote should be in the 3rd or 4th paragraph.
5. Keep it simple
Don’t be tempted to pepper your release with the latest industry buzzwords or jargon. This can start to get annoying and you’ll come across as trying too hard and putting style before substance. Consider the type of publication you’re writing for and whether they use a formal or informal style. It’s okay to tweak your release for different publications but you should still use simple words.
6. Park your ego
If a publication, local radio station or outlet decides to use your release, they will probably re-phrase it in some way. Be prepared to accept that your carefully-worded text may be presented differently. What matters to you is that the key message reaches your targeted audience.
7. Use a standard format
Forget about fancy fonts or layouts. Use a standard font and paste your press release into the body of your email. Try and avoid embedding PDFs or Word documents with your email unless it contains essential supplementary information, such as a brochure or artwork.
8. Use professional-standard images
You can include photographs with your press release but only if they are high-quality images. Most publications will welcome the addition of images, especially if they are visually striking. If your release includes a quote, try and include a professional-standard portrait photo of the person quoted. Remember, high-resolution images may cause problems for some recipients so you can always include a link where they can download the images if necessary, or consider using an online file-sharing app.
9. Include your contact details
Make sure you include all your contact details with your release, including those of anyone else in the company who is available for interview. Make it as easy as possible for recipients to get in touch.
10. Professional help
As a start-up or new business, you may be operating on a limited budget but it’s worth considering hiring a professional copywriter to do the job. You can easily find copywriters online who won’t charge the earth for their services and deliver a well-written release based on your brief. If you write your own release, make sure you check and double-check it for grammar or spelling mistakes before sending it out. Asking a colleague to read it through is also a good idea.