Your boss (or client) has come to you with some exciting news about your company and wants you to share it with the editors of industry trade magazines. Great! But now what?
Putting together a press release to distribute to industry media seems like the logical solution to this challenge, but press release writing may not be your thing. That’s okay, help has arrived! Here’s a list of tips I’ve compiled that will help you write for your readers, as well as increase your press release’s chances of getting read…
Follow the 3-30-3 Rule
No matter how well your press release is written, editors are busy people who tend to skim content, possibly missing important details in your announcement. To make sure that doesn’t happen, follow the 3-30-3 rule for writing compelling content.
So what is the 3-30-3 rule? It follows the same basic rules of the better known, more traditional inverted pyramid: You have three seconds to draw in any given reader. If you get their interest in the first three seconds, they will give you another 30 seconds to read further. And, if your message is very relevant and interesting, the reader will spend three more minutes with your release.
Think about it this way…the title takes up the first three seconds. The opening paragraphs occupies the following 30 seconds. The next three minutes is your chance to provide supporting details and additional information on the thesis of the release.
And remember, if you get editors to give your release three more minutes of their time don't waste it by giving them a release that will take 15 minutes to read!
Find a Hook
Just announcing that your news item, product or service exists is not enough to draw in editors. To really grab their attention (to make sure they want to publish your press release), you need to give them a hook — make the topic timely and/or relevant.
One of the very best ways to do this is to piggyback your announcement, product or service onto something that is currently generating news in the industry, like Tier 4 compliance or telematics. Our media friends are always hunting for new angles on traditional news stories!
Don’t Forget the 5 Ws
Never forget about the “so what?” of your press release — why are you writing it? What do you want readers to take away from reading it? To do this, important that you answer the Who, What, When, Where and Why (5 Ws) in the first paragraphs of the release.
Most importantly, make sure editors can answer all their initial questions by the time they are done reading the press release!
Keep it Short and Simple
Think like an editor as you’re putting together your press release — keep the writing concise and to the point, make it a little punchy with a powerful lead sentence that starts off the piece. If you need inspiration, check out any trade publication’s website to see examples how editors are writing for the industry.
A press release is a teaser to get an editor interest in your news, product or service. Don’t bog down or overwhelm your readers with too many details or too much information — cut to the chase and say everything in 400-500 words (keep the details snappy).
If an editor wants more in-depth details or has follow-up questions, provide them with specifics on how to contact you (or your client) for more information.
Incorporate a quote (or quotes) from a company expert to add credibility to your press release.
Position at least one person within your company as an expert on the news item, the product or the service. This person could the CEO or head of a particular department or division, a product manager, a distributor or a marketing representative.
The bottom line is: This appointed person needs to have the authority to speak about the topic of the release and ought to be accessible to the editors for follow-up questions or interviews.
Proofread, Proofread, Proofread
Pay close attention to grammar details in your copy — make it easy for industry editors to copy and paste your content into their publication’s format. This means that you want to eliminate as many errors and typos as possible before sending your press release to the media.
Also, invest in an AP Stylebook (an editor’s bible) to make sure you are adhering to common style rules. This is the very best way to convince editors, in their own language, that your company and its news are worth their time and energy. You won’t regret putting in the extra effort and attention into your press release.
Make It Searchable
Make sure your press release is optimized to be found not only by search engines but also by social media sites. To do this, be sure to include plenty of keywords and anchor text links. And to make your content even more powerful, combine the two — hyperlink your keywords to other content (blogs, news articles, industry websites, etc.) optimized with the same keywords.
And remember, its people reading your press release (not the search engines) — so, while it’s important to include keywords in your press release wherever possible, only use them if/when they make the most sense in the context of the content.
A Picture Is Worth 1,000 words
Whether you are announcing company news or promoting a new product or service, a picture adds credibility to your press release. Be sure to include a high resolution (300 dpi or larger) picture or illustration in your press release distribution efforts.
If the image is too large to email your media contacts, post it on a web page or FTP site and let editors know how to access at the finish of your press release or in your pitch letter. Editors are more likely to publish a news item with a photo than one without.
What did I miss? Chime in and let me know what other tips or tricks you have for writing press releases your readers want to read (and publish)!