Friday, August 19, 2011

 

Ten tips for writing a great press release

As a pseudo-news story, a press release is an important marketing tool for businesses seeking to gain publicity through the media (in addition to driving awareness and traffic from across the Web). Writing a great press release is challenging, but can pay off with both increased media interest and online sharing of the content through social media sites and blogs.

Here are ten tips for writing press releases that grab the attention of journalists and reporters.

1. Develop a Boilerplate
Press releases often contain a brief paragraph that describes your company, known as a boilerplate. This information helps journalists familiarize themselves with your business, and adds to the professional presentation of your media release. Boilerplates are usually placed at the end of the body of the content, before the contact information.

2. Stick to Newsworthy Content
Also known as a media release or news release, make sure that the content in your press release is really newsworthy. You need to convince the reader that your information is news and not marketing copy. Remember that reporters are not interested in promoting your latest product or service, they want content that is news.

3. Answer the Five "W's" & How
Write your press release like a news story. Your headline and first paragraph should include the most important facts and figures, followed by supporting information. Be sure to answer who, what, when, where, and why, as well as how, in your press release. It can be helpful to brainstorm the answers to these questions when developing a rough draft or outline for a media release.

4. Avoid Technical Jargon
Remember that your target audience are journalists, bloggers, and other media members who may not be experienced in your industry. Use plain language when describing technical terms and processes that can be understood by the public, because reporters are unlikely to spend time researching complicated concepts and ideas to interpret the meanings for their readers.

5. Use Quotes From Real People
Newspapers and media outlets love to use quotes, so make sure to use quotations from a spokesperson who is available and willing to conduct follow-up interviews. Never invent a fictitious person to attribute quotes to in a press release.

6. Write 400 Words or Less
The purpose of a press release is to generate interest from the media, and inspire journalists and bloggers to contact your company for more information. Keeping your content short and to the point makes it more likely to be read and shared through blogs and social media. Reporters are busy people, and they do not have the time to read lengthy articles in search of their next story.

7. Use Perfect Spelling and Grammar
Nothing undermines the credibility of a press release quicker than misspelled words, incorrect grammar and just plain poor writing. Use a good word processing program, and have another person proofread your release before publishing.

8. Create a Headline
Once you have completed your press release, create a short and interesting headline that both grabs attention and tells the reader what your press release is about. Writing the headline after the content is complete is a good idea, because writers can develop a headline that fits the story instead of trying to fit the story to a headline.

If possible, keep the headline short enough to be shared on Twitter along with a link to the story. Press release headlines are normally written in full capital letters, rather than simply capitalizing the first letter of each word.

9. End The Article With ###
The end of a press release is usually signified with three hash marks, or number signs, placed below the boilerplate and above the contact information. Using these symbols will increase the professional appearance of your release, making it more likely that professional journalists will find your information creditable. Alternatively, some writers use the symbol "-30-" or "-end-" to tell the reader the release is ended.

10. Include Contact Information
The final bit of information following the "###" symbols should be a one or two-line statement inviting journalists to contact your company for more information. This is the place to include the name, title, phone number, and email address of the media liaison for your business.


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