Writing a decent press release is a noble art. Well, when I use the word art, the reality is usually as corporate as creative. And when I use the word noble, the truth is often that they make money, rather than morals. Usually.
That said, a good press release can be a fantastic way to gain exposure for your business or company. With the greatest product or service in the world and a finely tuned, flashy website, you may still discover that you aren’t getting the traffic you deserve. A press release exposes you and tells the world, or the press at least, about your company. Its purpose is to attract journalists to your story.
I run a busy press release service and these are my top tips for creating a good press release.
#1 Punchy Headline
Making the headline relevant and yet catchy. It needs to be relevant to the sector you wish to launch it in. Avoid anything too long and choose something that will get attention of the readership of the places you’re submitting to. Although journalists may choose to rewrite the title, you’ll be saving them time if you give them something to work from.
#2 Keep it short
With some experience as an editor, I am amazed at how many hundreds of press releases I sometimes get in one day. No journalist or editor really wants to read through all of these, so it is vital to keep the information succinct. Aim for one page; two if it really is impossible to keep it down.
This is the part of press releases that is often hotly contested. Within the actual release you submit, it is best not to embed anything like a video or an image. However, they are still beneficial for promoting your product or service so provide a space for the journalist to access them. For example, I attach high resolution images to every post I make in my newsroom and link to this within the email. You can achieve a similar effect by creating a link for your hi-res images such as in Googledocs or dropbox.
As with photos, it’s advisable to have an attachment of your whole press release as a pdf. file available somewhere for the journalist to download, in case they wish to print it off and show an editor. However do not attach this to the email. Within the email, copy and paste the text from the original file so it reads as one whole email. Also include the date and your contact details so journalists know how to get in touch if they have any queries.
In some ways this should be the top tip. As best you can, personalise the email. When creating your press list, include first names wherever possible. These can be included within the merge field so you actually address the journalist by name. Ultimately, you want to show that you have made an effort as journalists really prefer that.
Laura Barnes is a writer and press release expert who runs Palaver Maven. For a bespoke press release written and distributed to the right channels on your behalf at just £50, please see her website.