A press release is a document that informs the media about what your company is doing.
Crafting a good press release is extremely important. It can get you free publicity, which in turn can increase brand awareness, breed goodwill among your customers, increase sales, etc.
Secondly, some news outlets, especially online ones, will post or print the press release in its entirety. So making sure that press release is eye-catching, relevant and newsworthy, not to mention “ready to publish” is key.
Here are my top tips 9 for getting that news release right.
1) Have a good story.
Journalists will want it to be a newsworthy one. Focus on that word. What is new here? Why would a news organization or a blogger want to cover this story? What makes it relevant to their readers or viewers? Some common reasons to issue a press release are to announce a company event, launch a new product or to announce a new hire.
2) Open with an eye-catching headline or title.
Journalists get inundated with press releases. Plus, they’re on a deadline, which means they don’t usually have a ton of time to kick up their feet and peruse piles of press releases. You want to catch their attention as quickly as possible with a notable title. Think headlines in the newspaper.
3) Write it like a news story.
News stories are not editorials, filled with flowery language, an abundance of adjectives or written in the first person. (First person can be used within a quote, see below.) Focus on giving the reader the facts, based on the five Ws: who, what, where, when and most importantly, tell them why should they care.
4) Don’t bury the lead.
The opening sentence or paragraph should contain the most pertinent information. In news, this is called the lead, essentially what you’re leading with. You don’t want to bury the lead – the point of the whole thing - ¾ of the way down the page. So don’t back into your story. Get right to the point.
5) Beware of sounding too promotional.
Editors are looking for newsworthy stories and they don’t want to do your advertising for you. Avoid sounding like you’re selling something. Yes, we know you actually are selling or promoting something (that’s the whole point!) but try not to sound that way.
6) Keep it to one or two pages.
Just as most people don’t read an entire newspaper article or blog posting, most reporters do not make it through an entire press release. If they do, congratulations, you’ve caught their attention! Keep it to a page or two.
7) Include a quote.
Humanize your press release and include a quote from a key player in the organization, like the president, CEO, community-relations manager or someone else who can speak for the company. Use the quote as an opportunity to add more facts. “I’m so happy that we are launching this new product,” says CEO Betty Boop. This is not a good use of a quote. Try: “This product is going to make the live sof working mother’s so much easier, says CEO Betty Boop.
Also, when quoting someone, stick to the word “said” as per above. Verbs like “expressed,” “stated,” “implied,” are just not pro.
8) Proofread, proofread and proofread again.
Do not rely on spell check. My favourite proofreading technique is to a) read the document out loud or b) get someone else to read it as well. Grammatical and spelling mistakes just make you look unprofessional.
9) End with information about the company.
This is where you give the brief overview of what your company does, an “about us” section. It’s also known as the boilerplate. Right below this, include specific contact information. Not your company’s general phone number but a specific person and their direct email or phone line. When a reporter wants to reach out, make it easy for them to get in touch.