How to write an effective press release
Writing styles vary, but great press releases have a few very important components. It's important for all public relations professionals to know how to whip up a compelling release in very little time. Here's what I recommend.
1. LEAD WITH THE BEST PART
The first paragraph of the release should set context and explain what the release will cover without burying the lead. Include the who, what, when, where, why and how upfront. Reporters are far less likely to read your release if they have to work to understand why the content matters. Writing this way can seem counterintuitive but it's the best way to write a release. Press releases are a class of their own because they have a specific purpose — they're meant to inform. Keep that purpose in the back of your mind at all times and it'll help keep your writing poignant and concise.
2. FIND A CATCHY (NOT FLASHY) TITLE
Think of the release title as the first impression. It should be eye-catching to draw people in, but strictly factual to avoid cliche or misleading exaggerations. Descriptors like amazing, one of a kind, best ever, unmatched, unparalleled and so many more do little to augment your content. Instead, choose words that effectively and accurately communicate the relevance of what you're pitching. The same applies to subject lines. Stick, catchy, concise and true.
3. FIND YOUR ANGLE
A release lacking newsworthiness – something worth talking about – is doomed to fail. Newsworthy content falls into the following categories:
Timely: Something that recently happened and is on people's minds
Proximity: Something relevant to people in a specific area
Conflict & controversy: Violence and confrontation highlighting differences of opinions within communities
Human interest: Stories of great triumph or feel-good heart-warmers
Relevance: Something that informs people about something they're interested in
Couch your release in one of these categories to increase the value for journalists of what you're communicating. Also consider things like novelty and rarity to help boost interest in your story.
4. NO FLUFFY QUOTES
Many times, public relations professionals ghost-write quotes for executives or subject matter experts to include in a release. Writing a quote can be. tricky, but it's important to make it meaningful. Avoid repeating existing thoughts from the release using different words. Instead, provide additional commentary on the relevance and importance of what the release is announcing and your organization's thoughts on its contribution. It's equally important to avoid hyperbole and inflation. Be honest about what your product, research, institution, etc. contributes to society or an industry. Journalists can smell fluff from a mile away so don't give them any reason to dismiss your release.
5. BE CONCISE
Less is more. Journalists receive hundreds of pitches and releases a day, so you need to get your point across in very little time. Say what needs to be said and wrap it up.
6. INCLUDE CONTACT INFORMATION
If a journalist is interested in speaking with an expert about the content of your release, they'll need to know who to contact to set up an interview. Be sure to include a phone number and email address for a point person for journalists. Be on the lookout for calls or emails regarding your release and respond quickly to reporters to let them know you're working on it.
7. DON'T FORGET THE BOILERPLATE
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As you can see above, three pound signs signifies the end of a release and the paragraphs below them should provides a brief overview of the company or organization you're writing for. Don't forget to include the link to the homepage of the website you would want to redirect people to.