The press release is one of the hardest working communications tools in your company’s content marketing efforts. To make sure you are getting the most bang-for-your-buck from your press release, it is important that the content is structured in the right way to grab readers’ interest and keep their attention. So, dust off your old college “PR” textbook and revisit the inverted pyramid style of writing press releases.
What is it?
The inverted pyramid is a writing style used by public relations professionals, journalists and other writers to illustrate how information should be prioritized and structured for the reader. It leads with the most important, or most newsworthy, information first.
This means that the press release starts with a great lead and is supported by solid facts, specs or proof points. It also contains a minimum amount of fluff, which means avoiding overuse of adjectives that don’t provide substance. Your lead paragraph should express everything you want your target audience to know while being very concise. It is usually four to eight sentences in length.
In most releases, your lead should focus on the “what’s in it for me” from the perspective of your target audience. For example, if you’re introducing a skid steer loader with 30 new improvements, use the lead paragraph to highlight a few of the most important features and explain the benefits they provide to contractors.
From there, the rest of the release should be drafted to paint a broader picture of the news item (perhaps a new product or service being introduced by your company) for your audience by including additional information about the announcement in the order of importance. This is done so that the release can easily be edited to fit into a predetermined publishing space.
Why the inverted pyramid style works
In order for your press release to be effective, it has to be read and understood by your target audience — editors, customers, investors and so on. Editors are very busy people, always on deadline, who receive hundreds of press releases from companies like yours each month. That means they often don’t have the time to comb through each and every release they receive to pinpoint what’s the most important information to share with their readers.
By using the inverted pyramid style, you minimize the amount of time an editor has to search for the newsworthy angle in your release. You show the editor that you know what you are doing and value their time by writing. And, an editor will also be impressed that your efforts do not include unnecessary company positioning statements or fluffy jargon. Leave the “marketing speak” out so they don’t have to take it out. Remember, you want to make it as easy as possible for an editor to publish your news. The first and best way to do that is by minimizing their editing time.
If your release is deemed newsworthy by an editor, and they decide to publish it, their readers will also respond better to the inverted pyramid style. The lead will draw readers in and take them through the rest of the content.