These press release tips can help gain your story some exposure. Building traction through blogs, emails and other marketing writing is a great way to build your audience. Sometimes however, there is no substitute for your business landing within the pages of a major publication with an already established audience.
Writing press releases that get published can be a tricky process, because you are relying on a gatekeeper to get your story published. These press release writing tips should help you through the process.
As a former journalist, I can attest to how jammed their schedules and inboxes can become. A good journalist has cultivated their sources, meaning there are people coming to them with solid information and story ideas. That means you need to do your legwork to get noticed.
20 Press Release Tips to Help You Get Your Story Published
Attention Grabbing Headline – Your headline might be short, but don’t treat it as an afterthought. It is the single biggest factor on whether a journalist or reader will continue reading any further. Grab people’s attention with a compelling headline and don’t let go. This might be the most important of the press release tips for this reason.
Write a Lead Sentence that Moves Readers – Journalists and editors are busy people. If you are trying to land your story in a publication, you must first grab their attention. Write a lead sentence that hooks people, and makes them want to continue reading your story.
Grammatically Flawless – If you have taken the time to ensure your press release is grammatically flawless, you’ll be saving the journalist or editor a lot of work in the end – and that is something that can help you get published. Make the process as easy as possible for those you are working with, and they’ll remember you. It may not be the sexiest of the press release tips, but it is important.
Learn/use AP Style – Associated Press (AP) style is the industry standard for all journalism. Writing your press release in this style is also something that can make the lives of the journalists you are working with much easier. They’re busy people and always looking for ways to make their jobs a little easier.
Use the 5w’s and H – Who, what, when, where, why and how surface in every good news story. These serve as the basic tenants of information your reader will need to know. Make sure that each are answered in your press release copy.
Tell a Story/ Don’t Promote – A press release is not the time to get self-serving and promotional. Tell a good story, and inform your readers of something they truly need to know. Treating your press releases like advertising copy is a sure fire way to have it land in the trash can.
Keep Your Goal in Mind – What are you trying to accomplish with your press release? Is your press release part of your larger marketing plan? Make sure you incorporate any information your readers will need to take action. Tell your readers how they can help, and what they can do.
Use Clear and Direct Language – Make sure your writing is clear and concise. Make sure that every sentence fits within the parameters of the larger message. It can help tremendously to read your writing out loud, have an extra set of eyes review your content, or hire a copy editor to help.
Incorporate Data – A good story is the best way to stand out in the eyes of a journalist or editor, but don’t forget the power of data. It shows you’ve done your homework, and it supports the claims you make as you state your point.
Don’t Bury the Lead – This is a standard journalism phrase that essentially means, don’t hide the major point of your story. If you are writing a press release as part of a new product launch, make sure that all the ways that product solves your customers’ problems are stated up top in the release.
Include Quotes – A quote from a company leader, or a customer legitimizes your story and gives it a human face. Journalists are always looking for quotes they can add into their stories, and this is yet another way to make life a little easier for them.
Direct Readers to More Information – There are most certainly places where journalists or readers can go for more information concerning your press release or your business. Direct readers to your website, or to contact you for more information.
Include Your Contact Information – A press release without contact information fails to seize the opportunities it created. Think about it – you’re writing to tell readers about something great your business is involved in, and then not giving them a way to take any sort of action.
Keep it Short – Journalists and readers are busy people. There is no need to bog them down with excessively long copy. Ask yourself if what you are including is necessary to the main point of the piece.
Tell the Whole Story – At the same time, it is important to not leave any key pieces of information out of your story.
Understand the Publication – Does the publication you are targeting publish press releases verbatim? Are you really trying to get some interest from a journalist who works at the publication? Have you seen them publish stories from within your industry before? These are all questions you’ll want some idea of before you pitch them.
Write a Strong Pitch email – Journalists are busy people. Many publications are laying off reporters, and shrinking the size of their editorial staff. That makes it harder to grab their attention, as they are doing more and more to keep their publication afloat. Be direct in your pitch email, and keep things short. Do what you can to grab the attention of the journalist, and let them respond.
Optimize Your Release for the Search Engines – If you’re looking to get a little extra mileage out of your story, you can optimize your press releases for the search engines, and submit them through some email press release sites. This is a way to get published in a few more places, and gain a little more traction. Just make sure you’re not butchering your copy in order to optimize. Most of these online press release sites will let you know what you need to do in order to meet their publication standards.
Place a Call – As I’ve stated before, journalists are busy people. If you wrote something you want to make sure they see, go ahead and give them a call as well. Sometimes taking that extra step can help you stand out when their email boxes are full beyond their ability to catch up.
Connect With Journalists – If you are looking to run a strong PR campaign, take the time to connect with the journalists who cover your industry. That means lunches, coffees and conversations before you are necessarily looking to promote. Understand they may be also looking to contact you when they are working on industry stories – a potential win for both of you.
Getting that Press Release Published
Seeing your business’s name in print is always exciting. Following these press release tips can help you make that a reality. Just remember that journalists always busy, but they are continuously looking for good stories as well.
If you have a compelling story and understand how to make their jobs easier through the process, editors are more compelled to publish your work. Good luck in getting the word out about your business. These press release tips should help. If you are looking for a professional press release writer, contact me today!
Matt Brennan is a Chicago marketing writer, press release writer and copy editor.