Small and large businesses alike dream of getting covered by a major news outlet. One good story can enhance your company’s image and credibility in one fell swoop.
And that’s where a press release comes in handy.
Despite all the changes in communications over the past few decades, press releases are still among the most effective marketing tools around.
With a well-written, well-timed release, you can send your company’s message to both online and print media quickly and inexpensively. The trouble is, many press releases miss the mark and wind up in the trash—both virtually and physically.
So how do you write a press release that gets read and published? Here are six essential tips for writing a press release.
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1. Make It Easy for the Journalist
One of the most important things to keep in mind is that journalists are busy.
They may not even care about your business. They care about your press release only insofar as it helps make their job easier.
Some businesses forget this, so they create a press release that just boasts about their own company. Or they aren’t super clear what the press release is even about. Then they’re confused when it doesn’t get picked up by any media outlets.
Everything in your press release should be tailored so it’s more likely to pique a journalist’s interest and turn into a story.
Write your release in newspaper style with all the basic who, what, when, where, and why information near the beginning. Think about informing your reader, not selling a product or idea.
Write like a journalist using the so-called inverted pyramid style:
Avoid superlatives, clichés, and other fluff—let the facts speak for themselves. Although your press release can be an effective sales tool, you don’t want it to read as one. Instead, write in an objective third-person voice that is lively and informative.
2. Grab Attention Right Away
The reason tabloid newspapers are so popular is that they grab people with sensational headlines they can’t look away from when standing in line at the supermarket.
Please don’t make an out-of-this-world claim or shocking statement on your press release. But you do need something that will capture the attention of a journalist who will turn your press release into a story.
And that starts with a killer headline for your press release.
You just have a moment or two for a journalist or editor to decide if they will read your release or hit the “delete” button. A powerful headline can make all the difference.
For example, which of these headlines would capture your interest?
- Acme Company Reveals Holiday Toy Sales Predictions (boring…)
- Braaains! Season’s Hottest Toys Capitalize on Zombie Mania
Remember that your purpose is to get your company’s name out there—but the job of a journalist is to write stories that will benefit their readership.
- So, first, write a short, catchy headline that teases the key information.
- Then, you need a strong opening paragraph. This is where you get right to the point about what the press release is about and why it’s important.
Here are 12 more tips for writing a press release headline:
3. Emphasize the Newsworthiness
Whatever you’re writing the press release about should be relevant and newsworthy.
Every company dreams of having its press release picked up by a national publication with an audience of millions, but that doesn’t happen every day.
Why? Because not everything is newsworthy.
While whatever you’re writing about may seem like a huge deal to you and your company, remember that you have to think like a journalist.
Maybe your company won an award or developed a new product. Ask yourself some critical questions to judge if these events are newsworthy:
- Why should people care?
- Does this new product save lives or change things in a profound way?
- Does it disrupt the industry?
- Does your award reflect a growing business trend that other companies need to know about?
Those topics are interesting to readers.
The other factor is relevance. If your press release isn’t especially newsworthy, it must at least be timely and relevant.
Examples of timely press releases include announcements tied to holidays, upcoming conferences or events, the opening of a new store, and monthly or yearly sales reports.
If you want to grab readers’ attention, following these tips for writing a press release is a great start. Working with a copy editor will ensure that you don’t have typos and grammar errors. But at Super Copy Editors, we don’t stop there—we also make sure your press release is compelling and concise so it has the best possible chance of getting picked up by the media. Learn more about our press release copy editing services.
4. Target Your Distribution
Most organizations settle for the “spray and pray” approach when it comes to distributing their press releases. They think more eyeballs is better.
You should employ the quality-over-quantity approach instead. It’s better to target a specific, smaller audience that will benefit the most from reading your press release than releasing it to a mass of people who won’t read it.
With a few tweaks, you can tailor your press release to a specific readership.
For example, let’s say your firm is hosting a seminar soon, and you want to publicize this. Use the same basic press release for each media outlet you distribute it to, but change the angle or the headline to focus on the most interesting point for that publication.
- A local newspaper may want to know that the speaker at your seminar graduated from the town’s high school.
- A national news website may want to know the details of the study that the seminar is based on.
Tailoring your press releases to appeal to the right audience will have a more positive impact on your company than sending it out for the whole world to happen upon.
Furthermore, when you know who you are targeting, you can write the press release to hold their attention longer by including information you know they are interested in.
5. Include Quotes From Real People
Quotes are a must for your press release. Do not neglect this essential component.
Interview the best person within your organization as a source for the release. Keep in mind, however, that the best quotes are statements that put something in a way that is personal and interesting.
“Impactful quotes embrace emotion and drive reporters to want to know more,” says Business Wire. So you should include quotes “that speak the language of your audience, not ones that sound machine-generated. Focus less on yourself and more on who and what you’re impacting.”
Here are some tips for including quotes in your press release:
- Quality, Not Quantity: Over-quoting will cause quotes to lose their impact.
- Short and Sweet: Quotable quotes are concise.
- Emotional and Thoughtful: Not generic and mechanical.
Pro tip: Avoid any quote that begins “We are delighted…” In fact, PRCA, an international group of PR professionals, says this type of quote is just a waste of space.
“If you find yourself writing the words ‘We’re delighted/proud/passionate’ in quotes, delete them,” says the group. “Journalists don’t give two hoots about how pleased you or your clients are. All they want to know is what you’re doing to please or support their readers.”
A press release should prominently and accurately convey the necessary information, but using quotes gives it more of a human aspect. Humanizing your press releases with emotional, thoughtful quotes will make your story more relatable to your readers, allowing them to connect and engage with your company on a more personal level.
6. Be Concise
Again, journalists are busy, so you have to ask yourself:
- What’s in it for them?
- Why should a journalist even read my press release and turn it into a story?
The answer is because you’re making their life easier. By giving them your story that’s practically pre-written for them, you’re saving them time on brainstorming and research.
When you put yourself in the shoes of the typical busy journalist, you can imagine how they’d rather read a concise press release over a wordy one.
If you make your press release brief, clear, and straightforward, there’s a better chance news outlets will pick up your story. An ideal press release is about one page long.
Additionally, readers reward brevity. They will respect the effort if you can give them your story in a succinct but meaningful way.
A Few More Quick Tips for Writing a Press Release
- Ensure the audience knows exactly what they are reading and who it is from by clearly stating this is a press release and prominently displaying your company information at the top of the page.
- Use targeted hyperlinks embedded in your press release to guide your readers to appropriate places on your website to learn more.
- Include links at the end to your social media accounts or other pages on your website for further information.
- Newspapers, magazines, TV, and radio are the usual distribution targets. But realize that bloggers, podcasters, and influencers are a cost-effective way to reach your target audience.
- Don’t forget to publish your press release on your own website. Create your own “newsroom” section of your site to keep your customers aware of important updates.
Don’t forget! Download “6 Expert Tips for Writing a Press Release That Gets You Noticed” to keep it handy and take action on it. Click here to download it now.
Even in the age of social media and instant communication, a well-written press release is just as important as it was in years past.
There are so many businesses and brands competing for the public’s attention today that it’s hard to break through the noise to get the word out about what your company is up to. Start by following these six tips, and you’ll have a better chance of getting your message in front of your targeted audience.
After trying out these tips for writing a press release, you’ll want help putting the polishing touches on the text. For this critical task, trust the professional team at Super Copy Editors. We have years of experience helping companies like yours ensure their press releases are error-free and crystal-clear. Get your free quote today.