Writing an effective press release is something of an art. There are hundreds of online templates you can use, and those will give you a formulaic, boring article. While this may make your job easier on the front end, it forgoes the ultimate goal of a press release: to have your story picked up by local and national media. And yes, this applies even if the story is set to be published on your company’s own website.
There are a few things journalists look for when it comes to a press release. If these criteria aren’t met, your release will likely find a home in the trash bin. Worse yet, it will simply be overlooked in favor of the hundreds of other press releases trying to gain journalists’ attention every day. Read on to learn more about what it takes to create an effective press release and how you can take your current writing process from good to great.
It Starts at the Top
If you have never written in a journalistic setting, press releases may seem a bit foreign to you. Simply remember this phrase: inverted pyramid. The most important fact or news must be in the first paragraph — in the first sentence, if possible. Media reporters simply do not have the time or patience to read an entire story to get to the point. What are you trying to announce with the press release? Put that in your first sentence (the lede).
Even before you have typed the first paragraph, you need a headline that grabs a reader’s attention without sounding like clickbait. For instance, “Atlanta company invents new plastic” works much better than “Is this plastic the greatest invention of the 21st century?” While that could be good for a blog, it does not fit into a journalistic setting.
Get Your Facts Straight
Nothing gets a press release turned down faster than wrong information. Sure, you can get away with it — once. If your mistake is major, like stating a new drug treats AIDS when it really treats lupus, you will likely lose all credibility with the outlets you sent that information to once they discover the truth. It is imperative you fact-check every single line of the press release. This will also help you check the grammar while you’re at it.
The best way to ensure your facts are founded in truth is to include quotes from someone closely related to the story. To expound on the example above, take this quote from the head of the pharmaceutical laboratory: “We are excited to see how much our drug helps those afflicted with lupus.” If you fact-check yourself, your mistake stating the wrong disease would be quickly obvious. Plus, a quote lends an air of credibility to the press release and makes the journalists’ job much easier.
An Effective Press Release is Open-Ended
No matter the topic of your press release, it is likely not the end of the story. The journalist will likely want more information, quotes, updates and the like. You need to be ready to answer the call. With so many emails being sent back and forth, journalists need an easy way to communicate with you without digging through their inbox. Include your contact information at the top of the press release. If you aren’t the best person to talk to, leave the contact information of whoever is.
You can also include a link to more information in the release. You only want a one-page press release, at most, which means some less important information may have been left out. A simple link to the company’s website or even a specific related page or blog can go a long way for journalists who are writing the article. If journalists are having to search the internet for more information because you left out a link, they may decide to abandon the story altogether.
Writing an effective press release may seem complicated at first, but these extra steps are well worth it. If you find yourself without the time to write press releases on your own, we can help. Get a quick quote today, or contact us to find out more!