In a high-tech world, old tactics still impact digital PR – the press release is a prime example. However, instead of using them to gain recognition through print as brands did in the past, the press release is now even more important in the online realm.
As an integral part of any successful link building strategy, the art of writing a press release can quickly take your brand from a limping link profile to a diverse influx of high-quality links. You just need to know how to craft it right.
As a professional copywriting agency, we’ve written countless press releases for clients, as well as ourselves. These are the top 5 tactics for writing a killer press release.
Like the clickbait headline ‘90% of people don’t realise this food will eventually kill them’, your hook needs to create an irresistible urge to read more. Though, unlike those headlines, your story must deliver on the promise.
Whatever you choose, to get noticed it must be informative, concise and – most importantly – intriguing. Research the press releases other brands in your sector have written and find the similarities between highly shared pieces. Try to build on this in your own writing. While you’re at it, remember that your primary audience for press releases are journalists – probably seeking breaking news and fresh takes on old ideas.
As you prepare to write, ask yourself:
- What is “new” in your story?
This could be research you’ve conducted or a new development in your industry or customer base.
- What is unusual or unexpected about your story?
If you were surprised by something, chances are, others will be too.
- Would anyone outside of your industry actually care about this?
Remember that the press release, when shared, could reach thousands (even millions) of eyes. If it isn’t relevant, it simply won’t be read.
2. Great headline
Headlines fight your battles for you. Without a good headline, no one will click. If no one clicks, your piece joins the millions of other unsuccessful campaigns collecting internet dust.
Be creative, but keep your hook in mind. If it’s a key piece of data you’ve collected from a specific demographic, use an impressive statistic to pull readers in. If you’ve got the inside scoop on a new development or product, say so. A good rule is to write a headline you’d click on if you scrolled past it in your Facebook timeline.
Just remember that whatever you promise in your headline, needs to be delivered in the piece, so don’t over-exaggerate your claims.
Lead with your idea and not your brand name. Even major players like Apple write with the product or idea in mind. For instance, when the new iPhone launched in September, the press release read, ‘The future is here: iPhone X’ instead of ‘Apple launches the future of iPhones: iPhone X.’
3. Write for your audience
Unlike bloggers and the general public, journalists write in a specific, straightforward style. The more you can mimic this, the better received your release will be.
This ‘inverted pyramid’ means the big news comes first, and looks like this:
Paragraph 1: if readers read nothing but this short paragraph, they should know exactly what your press release is about and your findings. Make this one or two sentences long.
Avoid the temptation to drop your company’s background information in, and keep the focus solely on the story you’re trying to share (your background info can be added to a ‘notes to editor’ section on your email).
Paragraph 2: give the story some context by explaining why it’s important and why people should care about it.
Paragraph 3: lay out the details – who’s involved, how you found this information, etc.
Paragraph 4: include any relevant quotes or insights that you’ve unearthed.
Paragraph 5: only now should you explain where people can find more details, buy the product, etc.
By writing in this way, you’ve done a lot of the journalist’s job for them – they’ll simply put their own spin on what you’ve written instead of needing to re-write the entire piece.
Keep it short. About 300 to 400 words should be enough to cover your topic. If yours is longer, revise and edit out any filler language until you have a sharp, concise piece.
4. Back up your claims
A variety of checkable and legitimate sources should be standard with any good press release. Links to sources who back up your claims add authority to your piece.
5. Proofread & optimise
If you’ve worked hard to add credibility with your resource links, don’t kill it with grammatical or spelling errors. So many grammar-check programs exist that there’s no excuse for writing the wrong ‘to’ or ‘their.’
Write in the third person. Instead of saying ‘We discovered…’ opt for ‘Big Business discovered…’ As a press release gets shared across multiple platforms, this not only helps identify who the original writer was but holds the SEO benefit of your brand being mentioned across a variety of sources online.
Along with this, plan for keywords as you would with any other piece of content. Associating your brand with the keyword has powerful SEO potential if your release gets shared.
A great press release can pay off big-time as platforms across the web send high quality links your way. Spending time learning the art of writing one will benefit your brand long-term.