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5th August 2020

10 Tips For Writing A Killer Press Release

Knowing how to craft the perfect press release is essential for getting the word out about your business.

But it’s harder than it looks. A press release is essentially a pitch, so you must be careful to adopt the right tone and showcase the value of your organisation to stand out from the crowd.

Before you start, make sure the story you want to send is truly newsworthy and contains a fresh angle. Once you’re sure you have a winning hook, here are ten ideas for improving your press release content.

1. Pick the right headline

Just because you’re not writing a blog post, it doesn’t mean the title doesn’t matter. Put your copywriting skills to good use!

You want journalists to know your story is newsworthy enough to pull in readers for them. It’s important to get the right balance of ‘exciting’ and ‘clear’, though – don’t get carried away and think up some ambiguous headline nobody will understand.

A tool like Coschedule can give you some feedback.

2. Label your email

Important as a headline may be, the struggle to stand out begins before your prospect even sees your press release. Make sure you get them the second your email lands in their inbox.

Nobody likes spam mail, so you don’t want to stand out too much by writing the most eye-catching subject line possible. Instead, make your intentions clear by labelling the email as a press release or storyline.

3. Don’t try to be too clever

If you’re a writer, you’ll naturally want to impress your skill with a witty metaphor or poetic explanation. We hate to break it to you, but that won’t get you into anyone’s good books.

Journalists don’t want to adopt your press release because they think you’re a genius or that you craft a wicked metaphor. They’re looking for a compelling story they can work with. Remember, most journalists have dozens of press releases sent to them each day to trawl through.

If you’re not sure how to write your press release, check out some samples.

4. Summarise everything in the top line

To make your press release writing readable and digestible, you need to follow a specific structure. Use the first line to provide a quick summary of the story. News articles follow this structure, too.

Ever heard of the 5 W’s of investigation (or the 6 W’s, depending on who you ask)? That’s what we’re going for here:

  1. Who
  2. Where
  3. When
  4. What
  5. Why
  6. How (this one is sometimes excluded)

The best press writing examples use all six. If you can get all this information into your first sentence, you’re on the right track.

5. Be concise

Noticing a theme yet? Journalists don’t have time for your drawn-out explanations and flowery language – just keep things simple and short.

Your entire press release should only come to around 400 words at most. It might be hard to keep things that short on the first draft, but after a few edits you’ll realise how many words you’re liking wasting on waffle.

Be sure to include a quote, too. Proper investigation uses sources and research to humanise a story and back it up.

6. Add company details as a note

If your aim for sending a press release is to get publicity for your company, you might feel tempted to dedicate the majority of the space to it. Any press release service will tell you this is a bad idea.

You must focus on the essence of the story. If you really want to add information about your company, include that as a note to the editor instead and let them make the call.

7. Use formatting to aid readability

As we’ve said already, your press release should be as digestible as possible. As well as keeping it to under 400 words and using simple language, you should use the correct formatting.

Sub-headings allow journalists to scan your text and get a gist of the overall direction. Bullet points are a great way to present statistics and facts without dedicating entire sentences to them.

8. Avoid jargon

We hate jargon with a passion, and so do journalists. If you’re sending a story about your business that’s heavily focused on your industry, you might find yourself slipping in sector-specific terms. Watch yourself on this one.

When including an expert quote, make sure it aids the story and isn’t just a load of technical language.

9. Tweak it for the publication

It’s bad practice to send an article pitch to multiple publications, but press releases are different. Maximise your chances of being published by sending your email to as many newspapers as you like.

But pay some attention to the editorial standards. Some newspapers have very strict guidelines and you want to send a strong signal that you’re a professional who’s done their research.

10. Think about your email content

After putting so much work into crafting the perfect press release, don’t throw it all away by messing up the contents of your email.

Include a (very) short outline of the story, explaining why it’s relevant and newsworthy. This is different from the summary at the start of your press release because you’re discussing why readers will enjoy the story rather than explaining what the story is.

Also, avoid large images in your attachments. Journalists are short on time, so don’t give them an excuse to send your email to junk without reading it.

Get professional help

In an ideal world, all companies would have a public relations or media team to sort out their press releases for them, but small companies rarely have these kinds of resources. Getting press releases right can be hard for someone with no experience.

Even if you follow all 10 pieces of advice here perfectly, it can’t compare with using a press release copywriting agency to do the work for you.

Professionals know how to create a great hook, write for the target audience, and hone in on the most newsworthy elements of a story. It’s worth the investment for the exposure you’ll receive.

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