Writing press releases is one of the many content development tasks we do around here everyday. Today, we wanted to share 6 tips to make your next press release for the trade media a bit more focused and professional.
Here’s a quick rundown of our approach
Start with good and relevant content
The goal of a press release is to get someone to read it and take action. Too many people focus on just getting a release printed. When you make quality your goal, I guarantee your release will not only be published, but it will also spur people to take action in the form of reading the release all the way to the end, visiting your website and/or reaching out to a sales person.
Eliminate the fluff
If you are looking for a marketing outlet for creative writing, let me advise you that a press release isn’t one of them. One of the errors I used to make when I was a younger was to add some “marketing speak” (i.e. fluff) to a release to increase word count or to pamper my clients’ egos even though I knew that it would get cut by a good editor. Here’s an example:
Do you see the fluff? Leaders don’t have to announce they are leaders, the industry already knows. All of that stuff is just filler…fluff.
Focus on the facts
The headline and first paragraph are the most important parts of your announcement. It’s important to remember that the first audience that you are writing for is the editor, and it’s very important that he/she should not have to read deep into your press release to figure out what the announcement is about.
Here’s a few ideas to help you out when you’re writing your next press release. A press release headline must include two very important things:
- Who — Your company
- What — The purpose for the release. Keep the headline direct and to the point. More creative, descriptive wording can be used in a subhead.
The first paragraph needs to expand on the facts outlined in the headline and should include:
- Why the news is relevant — if you are launching a new product, explain how it is new, better and/or different from what your company already has available in the market.
- Who — Help readers understand who the news is for ─for example, if you are announcing a new product, explain what applications, industries and/or customers it is intended for.
To Quote or not to quote
Personally, I like quotes that explain a company’s reason for doing something and help answer the “Why” question. However, I do not like a quote that focus on how great a company thinks it is and/or doesn’t say anything at all (again…avoid fluff).
Here are two pet peeves I have when reading company spokesperson quotes:
- “We are very excited to offer…” I’m not a big fan of companies using the phrase “very excited,” because I think that that string of words sets a more personal tone rather than a professional one.
- “The new XX product is equipped with this feature and has this benefit…” I feel that including important spec information as part of a quote makes it difficult for an editor to determine what are the most important details about the product to share with their readers.
Write as many words as you need to tell your story, but no more than that. I’ve written product releases that range from two paragraphs to four pages, because that’s what it took to tell the story.
Simply put, don’t worry about word count. When you focus on sharing the facts, and eliminating fluff and front loading your headline and first paragraph, you’ve covered your bases.
A press release in a trade industry, particularly for a new product introduction, will likely receive editorial coverage for many years. Every year, you should revise/update your inventory of press releases on your company’s current products and news. That doesn’t mean you should mass distribute the releases again ── this effort is more to ensure that everything you have on file is current and relevant. This means that when an editor asks you for product or company information, you are sharing the most up-to-date content possible.
If you have any questions, let me know. I am always happy to help.