Congratulations! Your company just won a prestigious award, launched a revolutionary new product or lured a really great hire away from the competition. So, of course, the first thing someone says is, “We should write a press release.”
And guess what – they’re right!
Press releases are a great way to share your company’s achievements with current clients, potential clients and the community at large. Not only can you self-publish them on your website, which helps with your search engine optimization (SEO) efforts, but you can – and should – also send your press releases to local journalists and bloggers to get some media coverage.
But how can you make sure your efforts get a reporter’s attention? It’s not as difficult as you might think. Here are 10 tips that will help you write a press release that gets noticed.
1. Start things off with a great headline
Notice I didn’t say a cute or clever headline. Journalists deal with the facts, and your headline should, too. A creative headline might seem more appealing, but if reporters can’t figure out the story at first glance, they’re unlikely to give your press release a second one. Instead, be direct and include your company name up front. Bonus points if your headline is 140 characters or less, which makes it easier to share on your social media platforms.
2. Don’t dance around the news
Your first paragraph should get straight to the point. Answer the five W’s (who, what, when, where and why) in the lead paragraph. Then use the subsequent paragraphs to provide more details.
3. Include quotes – when it makes sense
Quotes are a great way to add some color and insight to your release, but they need to sound like something someone would actually say. They also need to add substance or new information. If you’re struggling to come up with a quote that says something different than the text that precedes it, it’s probably a sign that your quote is superfluous. Also, don’t overinflate or get grandiose in your quotes. Reporters are taught to view such language with suspicion.
4. Keep it short and sweet
A press release shouldn’t be a novella. Instead, it’s a hook – an opportunity to pique reporters’ interest in the hopes they’ll write a longer article or interview you for a television news segment. So try to limit each release to one page, or two max. Anything more than that probably won’t get read.
5. Insert links where appropriate
Links do two helpful things: they show reporters where to find more information on a topic covered in your release, and they can help boost your Google rankings though a process known as link building. You don’t need to link everything, but routinely including two to three high-quality links in either the body of your release or your boilerplate can make a huge difference with SEO.
6. Include your contact information
It may sound commonsensical, but all too often, people write and send press releases, and don’t tell reporters the easiest way to get back in touch with them. At the top of every release, include the name, phone number and email of the person at your company who can provide more information to a reporter or facilitate scheduling interviews.
7. Add a boilerplate to the bottom
What’s a boilerplate, you might ask? It’s a short paragraph that includes basic information about your company. It doesn’t need to be a litany of every award or achievement you’ve earned, but it should give the reader a good overview of who you are and what you do.
8. Give it a good read before sending
Misspellings, grammar mistakes and poorly worded sentences will make a journalist gloss over and lose interest in your release. So proofread it carefully before sending it out. Even better, ask someone who’s never seen the release to read it for you. They’ll be much more likely to find errors than you will.
9. Track down the right reporters and publications
The only thing worse than not writing a press release is spending the time to write one, and then sending it to the wrong people. Make sure you’re targeting the right media outlets for your market, and the right reporters or editors at each outlet. Remember, while you may work with a specific reporter at your local newspaper, a television station may prefer that you contact the assignment editor. Learn the proper procedure for each media partner to ensure the best reception for your release.
You can’t just send out a press release and expect it to magically appear on a website, in a newspaper or on television. Instead, you need to be a bit of a squeaky wheel. After you send out your release, call the reporters or editors you’ve sent it to so that you can follow up. Did they receive it? Do they have any questions? Are they interested in doing a story? If not, what kinds of angles are they looking for (so you can better tailor your next pitch)? Remember, some reporters get hundreds of emails each week; a follow-up call can go a long way toward making yours stand apart from the crowd.
While there’s no guarantee that any single press release will garner media coverage, following these 10 tips will help increase your odds for success. Still not sure how to get started? Let the public relations experts at Vela help! Contact us to learn more about our full range of PR services.