Tips for Writing a Press Release That Gets Attention
By Holly Reisem Hanna
With my one year blog anniversary coming up I was going to hire someone to write a press release for me, but after some consideration, I thought who else is better equipped to write a press release on The Work at Home Woman than its publisher, me!?!
The purpose of a press release is to inform the world of your news and if you’re lucky a journalist or news publication will pick up your story and turn it into a news item for a magazine, newspaper or online publication, giving you and your business greater exposure and credibility.
Publicity is different from traditional advertising in that it builds credibility because it is a third party that is distributing the information. With advertising the message is totally controlled by the company (how long it runs, what is said, what it looks like), but because people know that it is a paid advertisement they may be skeptical of the claims being made. The general population is more likely to trust a third party source such as reviewer, columnist or reporter – just look at how popular Consumer Reports is!
To create a press release that catches the attention of a journalist here are some basic tips you should follow when writing your press release.
- Make sure the item that you’re sending out is newsworthy. So what is considered newsworthy? It could be a grand opening (make sure to come up with a unique angle, online stores open up every day), survey results, winning an award, a strategic partnership that has been formed, an event, anniversary or milestone. You should not use your press release for the purpose of making a sale.
- Use the correct format. As a document, press releases have a very specific format and content guidelines – make sure to adhere to them. You can find many places online for templates and guidance.
- Put yourself in the reader’s seat: You will need to make your press release appealing to the reader and one of the best ways to do this is by telling a short story or by giving an example. Make sure that all the details in the release are factual and not embellished – falsifications can undoubtedly ruin your creditability and reputation.
- Start strong: Make sure the first sentence of your press release is effective, as it is the most important. Your press release should include all of the “W” questions, “who, what, where, when and why”.
- Avoid flair: Tone down your use of adjectives and fancy lingo. Try to avoid the use of exclamation points and if you feel it is absolutely necessary to use them, make sure it is only one, not several of them. Also avoid using all capitals or bold face type – be moderate.
- Permission: Before using a quote or any company information make sure that you have permission from the company. A dispute from the quoted company could end up with your press release being pulled.
- Make it easy: Make sure to provide as much detail and contact information to make the journalist’s job easy. Include contact name, business, address, phone, fax, email address and web site address.
Once you have your press release written it’s time to submit it to the various press release distribution sites. PR Web is probably the most popular site however it is slightly expensive, around $80 for a standard press release. And one thing you need to remember with PR is that when you send out a press release it may or may not be picked up by a journalist. I would suggest sending your release out to all of your local news avenues (newspapers & news stations) and many of the free sites, then if you have the money send it out of PR Web too.
Now it’s off to write my press release… if you have tips for writing or submitting a press release I’d love to hear it.