Whether you're a veteran at writing press releases or are just starting your writing career, there may be more to writing a great press release than you think. Done right, a press release does more than just supply information to the media and the industry; done right, it stands out amidst the flood of stories and pitches journalists deal with every day. But don't worry—these 5 tips will help your press release shine.
#1 Make the First Paragraph Count
When you're writing fiction, you want to make the first page pique the interest of the editor. In writing a press release, you need to follow the same idea and condense most of what you want to say into the first paragraph. Most likely, people who read your press release are going to skim most of the content, but if the first paragraph stands out to them, the chance that they read on increases drastically. That doesn't mean that the later paragraphs don't matter; it just means that they should be more focused on supporting information for the information in the first paragraph.
With this in mind, remember that your headline should be equally promising. The name of the press release game is actually getting people to read it, and if you can't establish that at a glance, you just might lose.
#2 Sources, Sources, Sources
Now that you've got someone actually reading the press release, make sure that you back up every claim with some hard numbers, or at least quotes. If you want to say the market is moving in a certain direction, quantify what you're saying. That being said, you don't only want to source with facts; too many numbers and your press release will start to feel sterile. Make sure to include some quotes as well, as they'll add a bit of a human element to what you're trying to say, while backing it up. That being said, don't use quotes to add more figures to the document, have them add insight without any technical language or industry jargon.
#3 Keep it Short and Direct
Just like when you're writing a resume, when you're writing a press release, you want all the information to be available in a glance. As we said earlier, chances are the entire press release isn't going to be read, and the longer the release, the more unlikely it is. The maximum length you want for a press release is two pages, but you really want to try to stick to one. If you're having trouble fitting in the information you need, don't forget that your press release can include links to the company's website for further information.
Keeping to one page will also make sure you keep out any fluff, and the more you can condense you writing, the more journalists will thank you.
#4 Check Your Style
If you're not used to writing press releases, make sure that you read it aloud before sending it on. A press release should be written in a factual tone, and be as concise as possible. Make sure that your sentences don't ramble on; a good way to check that, besides reading it aloud, is to count the words in each sentence. If you ever go above 25, you're not "punchy" enough.
#5 Remember Your W's (and H)
You might remember your W's (and H) from school: Who, What, When, Where, Why, and How. Your press release should succinctly answer all of them. Consider:
- Who is your press release about?
- What news are you covering?
- When did (or will) the news occur?
- Where did (or will) the news take place?
- Why is this news anyway?
- How is this all happening?
Once you've answered these questions, use them to write the body of your press release. By making sure that all of these questions are answered, you're supplying the information your target audience needs to know, making the release much more effective.
By incorporating all five of these tips, you should be able to write more effectively, and get more media coverage. However, there's something else about press releases you need to know: keep at it. Remember that the media is swamped with stories, and yours might not be the most newsworthy. That being said, the more you write effective press releases, the better chance you have. Develop a relationship with your target audience by continuing to write awesome press releases, and you'll see your hard work pay off.