The eternal press release – we never seem to talk enough about it, do we? And yet, there’s always something new to learn, even when it comes to common practice. How many press releases you read that are good enough to serve their purpose? Too few. So today, we offer you a list of “hardcore” tips to help you improve your press release writing style.
Write shareable headlines
This is the social media age, and no one can stress enough how important it is to write titles that inspire people to share your story with others. Your titles should trigger interest and emotion, they should appeal equally to people’s intellectual and empathetic spheres. To determine the emotional marketing value of a headline, you could use the free headline analyzer provided by the Advanced Marketing Institute.
Optimize headlines for social media
The first tip implies the second: shareable titles need to be short, to allow tweets, retweets and sharing on other social media channels like reddit, Delicious, Google+ and so on. Keep in mind that a Tweet is only 140 characters long, and make your headline as short as possible.
Forget everything your think your know about SEO
The old school SEO title writing included “well researched” keywords as a must, with emphasis on situating them at the beginning of the title, in the belief that search engines would give them priority over other similar titles. Forget about it. Only include keywords if they are truly relevant, and add to the appeal of your title. You should focus on delivering information instead of manipulating search indexing results.
Keep it simple
Don’t clutter your headline with unnecessary information. For instance, Panasonic announced recently the launch of a Facebook app Quiz Triviathlon. The title read: Panasonic Launches Olympic QUIZ TRIVIATHLON Facebook App Using Cloud Service During London 2012. Aside being long, the title includes a piece of information totally irrelevant for the public: the use of cloud services. How is that even remotely interesting for the public? Most Facebook apps use cloud services anyway. So focus your message on your audiences, make it interesting and useful, and “sell” your news with your headline.
Sell the news from the first paragraph
Most press releases follow the same media cliché: Company name, a leading blah blah blah, today announced… etc…. Boring! If you had an interesting announcement that no journalist picked up, and you used this format, it’s your fault. Avoid corporate jargon that distances you from your audiences. Don’t include “today announced” in that first paragraph, it will make you look like an amateur. The press release is dated anyway. How should you begin? With the news, of course. For example, when we launched Creative PRide, our press release writing and distribution service last month, we opened with the following:
Creative PRide is more than a press release writing and distribution service; it is a media exposure package, that offers small businesses the chance to grab more headlines and media attention at a fraction of the cost.
Stick to the facts
Many marketers try to “enrich” their releases with pompous data and fluff. Strip your press release of all the fluff and stick to the facts. Some companies even offer the facts as a bulleted list, before the opening paragraph. The approach is very effective, especially for journalists, as it offers a clear overview of the most important aspects of the announcement.
Create a story
Nothing engages better than a story, and although press releases tend to be cold, factual, announcements, you can enhance them through the art of storytelling. If that’s not possible, then include a catchy image, or a video.
Choose your release date carefully
If the world is focused on bigger news, no matter how interesting your press release may be, it will go unnoticed. So take a look in the news, and see what happens in your industry. If you notice a “slow” news trend, go for it. But don’t send your release out in the weekend, and avoid Mondays if possible.
Prepare yourself for public scrutiny
If you send out a press release, you are begging for attention, and it will come. So be prepared. Make sure you don’t have dead links on your site, make sure that all your social media profiles are optimized and up to date, and be prepared to answer unexpected questions.
Be prepared for negative reactions
Repeat after me: nobody is perfect. Now that you understand, don’t expect journalists to write positively about your news just because your press release is a positive announcement. Be prepared for critique, and don’t go to argue with the journalist when it happens. Show class, and thank for the feedback. Critique helps us all grow, even when, sometimes, the truth hurts.
Think before you distribute
Using budget press release distribution services like PRWeb and PR Newswire’s iReach is not detrimental, but if you want serious publications to cover your story, offer them the exclusive news, before you distribute your release.
Follow up on your success
Help your press release achieve its full potential by promoting it with your existing client base. A newsletter is a great way to tell them what’s new. Publish a short version of the news on your corporate blog as well, and make the announcement once on your social media pages and profiles. A week or two after the release, follow up with some related news. Let your customers know that you didn’t stop working after one release.