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July 26, 2011

Write a Press Release People Will Read

by Marketing Made Easy

First, blogging was the new newspaper article.   Then Tumblr was the new WordPress.   Now the 140 character press release is the new everything.

Press Release Back in Vogue

A staggering 80% of online purchases begin with a web search.   Journalists also obtain additional story information by searching for material online and any rumors about the death of the press release and its importance to the growth of a business are unfounded.  The online plethora of social media, blogging and RSS feeds have given the press release new purpose.

However, if you think that punting out a press release and then blogging and tweeting about them is all you need to do to create a bit of social media noise you couldn’t be further from the truth.

For some reason, many small business owners seem to be laboring under the illusion that journalists carefully read each and every press release and turn them into stories.

The fact is that nearly ALL press releases end up in the trash folder!  Journalists have grown fatigued by the daily fire of a long, poorly written press release that conveys little or no substantial content.

When you read the paper and the story begins with “After full consultation with our tribunal constituents, blah, blah, blah…” do you jump out of your skin with excitement and wonder, and enthusiastically read the entire article?   To say the least, I find them boring and uninspiring.  Something similar seems to happen to many people when they write their press release, they sort of slip into a tortuous corporate rhetoric.

This means we must change the way we write press releases.  Brevity draws readers in, creativity keeps them and using plain english helps them remember your message!

 

1.  Use Plain English.  What’s the story?  If you can’t say why your story deserves a press release, then how can you expect a journalist to write about it?  Just tell journalists what it does and why it matters.  The five W’s still matter: WHO, WHAT, WHEN and WHERE – in one or two sentences.

2.  Don’t use Superlatives: Cut the hype; don’t say you’re excited or thrilled, or it’s revolutionary and innovative.  If the news is worthy of a press release, your excitement will already be implied in the body of the text.  Focus on WHY the announcement is important to your industry, not how you feel.

3.  Avoid Leading with “ABC Company is a leading provider of blah, blah, blah…” The first sentence is your ONLY opportunity to grab the journalist’s attention.  Don’t lull them to sleep with your accolades; you’ll have an opportunity to fill in your credentials only after you get someone to read the first paragraph.

4.  Make Your Headline, Headline Worthy.  Headlines are meant to draw attention, so make sure yours does!  Good headlines can be read and understood at a glance.   Start the headline with the subject, then follow it with an action verb and then say what the news is.  Sweet and simple, just like a news headline.  To get an idea of how to write press release headlines, go and grab a newspaper.  They are full of headlines and you’ll start to get a feel for it.

5.  Keep it Brief.  Instead of jamming every single detail about your product or offering, focus on the highlights and link through to more details.  The odds of a journalist or your customer reading past the first few paragraphs of your release are minimal.  Your message should not exceed 140-characters and as a non-brand, use wit and humor to convey your message.

Not surprisingly given Apple’s focus on simplicity, have a look at these press releases; they are always short and to the point.

Author: Peta Di Palma

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