Press releases play an important role in announcing news and garnering attention for a business, individual, or non-profit organization. On and offline media are constantly looking for something new to write about, so a well-written and timed press release helps journalists find topics they think their readers will find interesting.
A successful press release is a two-pronged affair: great writing and a good distribution strategy. If you want to get the press releases you write published by the press, it’s crucial to understand how to distribute them in a way that will get them noticed – and get you the results you want.
Rules of Press Release Distribution
Rule #1: Write a great press release. Seems obvious, but no matter how great the news you’re announcing, if your press release fails to excite the person reading it, it will land in the reject pile. Effective press releases are about good storytelling and, except for the lucky few, writing them can take years to perfect. If you’ve never written them before, it is always worth using a professional writer or service. Experts recommend these AP style guides when writing a press release: stating a clear objective, using the five Ws, using proper grammar, style, and spacing, and showing names and titles correctly.
Rule #2: Know the audience you’re trying to reach. Use buyer personas and metrics to determine your target market and use terms and buzzwords that appeal to them. Make sure you understand who your audience is before you start writing!
Rule #3: Create a good pitch. You may be communicating digitally, but a good “elevator pitch” still has the power to make your press release stand out. How to do it? With a catchy, classy, or funny headline. Press releases are a form of branding and should accurately reflect a business’ mission. If you typically use headlines like “ABC Company Announces New Product,” think about how to rewrite them to highlight how they are of use to the end user: “No More Software Crashes: ABC Company Solves Common Problem.”
Rule #4: Learn what editors like. If your press releases are not written in the style and format that editors prefer, they’ll likely be discarded. Editors know exactly what their readers want, so help them serve their readership, not promote your brand. This is particularly important for trade publications.
Rule #5: Use cross-promotion. Does the press release announce something that involves or benefits another business or partner? Cross-promoting can attract a larger audience and enhance a brand’s credibility.
Related: 7 Press Release Content Writing Tips
Rule #6: Incorporate images and hyperlinks. Traditional press releases didn’t do this because the technology didn’t exist for using them in a publication. Pictures, infographics, video, and sound files are more valuable – and eye-catching – than a million words. They also increase the likelihood of your release going viral.
Rule #7: Choose quality press release distribution channels. Good press release distribution doesn’t come cheap, but cutting corners is a waste of whatever little money you spend. Many people choose to self-distribute their press release, but paying a press release distribution service can offer bigger rewards. Look for services that offer a reasonable word limit and the best options for adding videos, images, and hyperlinks. Once your press release is distributed, make sure to use social media platforms to syndicate it: write a quick “brag” and include links to where the article appears.
Remember, editors get tons of press releases a day. You must set yourself apart from the rest or you’ll struggle to gain their interest. Finally, once a publication runs your story, stay in touch! It’s always in your best interest to continue submitting interesting press releases to someone who’s already found you credible. To learn more, read our other blog post on the subject of press release distribution, "Everything You Need to Know to Write Attention-Getting Press Releases."