How to write effective press releases | Several tips from Craig Martin, an experienced journalist & a freelance writer
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How to write effective press releases | Several tips from Craig Martin, an experienced journalist & a freelance writer

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Are you looking for a short, concise and easy-to-understand guide on writing effective press releases? ...

Are you looking for a short, concise and easy-to-understand guide on writing effective press releases?

Well, here it is. This 10-minute guide contains several tips from Craig Martin, an experienced journalist & freelance writer.

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How to write effective press releases | Several tips from Craig Martin, an experienced journalist & a freelance writer How to write effective press releases | Several tips from Craig Martin, an experienced journalist & a freelance writer Document Transcript

  • How to write effective press releases Courtesy of experienced journalist & freelance writer, Craig Martin Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License. You are free to share, distribute, adapt and/or make commercial use of the work, BUT ONLY when you attribute the work AND share any altered work under the same (or a similar) type of license.
  • Press Release. **For Immediate Release** Press Announcement. **Media Alert** For the most part, these are all pretty much the same thing – you want to get your message out to the general public, the media and/or a specific corner of the marketplace. These announcements can provide a much larger return in your investment compared to other advertising methods. Promoting your products (or services) in a cost-effective manner can be the catalyst that pushes your organization to a new level of success. A concise, efficient and newsworthy press release can begin to spark that momentum, so here are several tips that can turn your current press release into a successful one:
  • Define your target audience before writing or revising the press release. Are you writing to the general public or to a specific customer base? Some press releases are a muddled combination of generic information with technical jargon that doesn't have any specific reason for why there's an announcement. But, worse off, they don't indicate who it's for. Think of it this way – would you use crayons and stuffed animals to explain the recent earnings report to the Board of Directors at a Fortune 500 company? Except for a toy store company, it's very doubtful. So why would you make a generic announcement if you're aiming for doctors or lawyers or construction workers? Being specific will help you target the right readers.
  • Make sure your press release has a real, significant newsworthy element to it. If you look at a free PR distribution website, I can guarantee you that there's some sort of health pill or vitality medication within the first 20 releases. But there's no newsworthy element to it. No special sale, no approval by the government, nothing even close to being newsworthy.. just another generic release for Google, Bing, Yahoo, Yandex and/or Baidu to eventually discover. If all you want to do is flood the marketplace with garbage, then: • your company will be recognized as a spammer, and • potential customers might believe the hype more than the actual product or service – meaning that they could buy it only one time before moving on to your competition.
  • If you're unveiling a new product or announcing a new service, then your press release is definitely newsworthy. Did your company just launch a new website or open a new building? Ehhh.. your announcement could have some significance to the media, especially if it impacts the local community or your website is a major player in a particular industry. But don't struggle with creating some newsworthy hook to write a press release that's blatantly an advertisement. I've personally rejected potential clients who were only looking to “announce” health pills or get-rich-quick schemes when there wasn't a single legitimate reason to have a press release. Believe me.. no one will read these type of “press releases” and newspapers hate getting them. Just let it go for now.
  • Use between 400 and 700 words in your press release. Many legitimate press release distribution sites – such as PRWeb – will only accept announcements longer than 300 words to avoid short, non-informative blurbs that can spam their networks. But don't ask a writer to create tremendously long announcements that are over 1,000 or 2,000 words. You're better off spending your money to put an advertorial in a magazine or a newspaper. Press releases are to inform readers in a concise manner, as well as create interest in your product, service or company. They are intended to tempt a potential customer or a member of the media to learn more about a newsworthy event – a 2,000-word “press release” only pleases search engines, not readers.
  • Use the WWWW summary for the first paragraph. The who, what, where, why and (sometimes) how – the basic elements in a newspaper reporter's arsenal. In fact, anyone wants to see those details in the first section of most reading materials. Tell who (in your target audience) why they should care about what you're offering. Try to do that within the first sentence or two. Quick, concise and informative are three key characteristics of an effective press release. You can provide some history, an anecdote and/or detailed information, but this should be done in the body of the text. If a particular reader decides to continue past the first paragraph, then it's likely that the reader is interested in your product or service – and could be a future customer.
  • Use informative quotes to personalize the release and break up the text. A continuous flow of detailed information can seem more like a technical document or a company's annual report, not an announcement for your customers. A quote interrupts the flow, but also connects with new customers who like learning more details about your products or services from a member of the company. Plus, quotes allow you to restate a key point without sounding too repetitive. Don't use fluffy statements either. “Oh, it's a great product,” said CEO Boring McBoredom. Please.. just describe it to your audience in everyday terms and try to connect with people who don't know what you do.
  • Give a strong, solid ending that repeats the key details (and/or a call to action). Similar to a cliffhanger episode on television, you don't want to end a press release with a question or “to be continued”. An awkward, confusing ending to the announcement just makes it like you wasted the reader's time.. and good luck getting them to pay attention to another press release from you again. Provide a website link, a phone number, a date, contact information and so on. You can just state “for more information, please...” with the pertinent details. Simple, basic and concrete information – that's pretty much all people want to get from a press release.
  • Here are three common questions that I've heard as a freelance business writer.. perhaps they will shed light on similar thoughts. What's the story with these “free” PR websites? Well, posting a release with the basic, no-frills format is free. But adding links to various website pages might cost extra. Same thing if you want the release sent to actual media organizations. Often, the “free distribution” means that your news release will be placed on one massive website, which should list your release (and others) if someone searches for certain keywords. Your competition could be using this method or have been using it for quite some time. However, remember that one press release
  • among millions of others reduces the chances that your press release will be read by anyone but a few search engines. It's your choice to pay for a legitimate press release service, such as eReleases. But the most important factor is making sure that your release is concise, meaningful and newsworthy – otherwise, it's just an advertisement that everyone will ignore within five seconds. What sort of quotes are good to use in a press release? Basically, it should be anything that supports your key reason for making this press release, but with everyday words. If you're having a tricky time with this, then you might need to question if your press release is newsworthy or an advertisement.
  • “Our blah blah blah is the best in the market and you can rely on it for blah blah blah” – now that's just a weak quote. Again, don't use generic, fluffy statements. If your quote is aimed toward a newsworthy purpose, then you can tweak it to read better. “Our blah blah has just been awarded as the top blah blah in the market today, so we are proud to announce the development of our latest blah blah blah” – now there we go! By adding the recent award and mentioning the new development in the works, you've made a significant improvement with the previous quote and made it relevant to the overall message. In addition, this type of quote also adds some credibility to the organization, especially if it's a significant achievement or award.
  • Should I hire a professional to write my press release? Small business owners and large marketing departments don't always have the time to create a well-written press release. Hiring a professional freelancer is a sensible way to promote your business or organization in a cost-effective and timely manner. Delegating the task to a co-worker may be more trouble than it's worth – not necessarily due to poor writing, but to avoid other issues. You could use too much in-house jargon, there may be added pressure to make it perfect for the boss or this task ends up getting completed later than intended (if it gets finished at all). A professional writer, especially an experienced journalist who has worked under tight deadlines, is comfortable with this type of situation. With time to research and gain some background
  • information that conforms nicely to the client's message, a freelance writer (like myself) can deliver a press release within a few days – and, if you're in a rush, it could be done within 48 hours! Hiring a freelancer will allow you – and your staff – to focus on critical items that are needed to prepare for a particular announcement. And the return on your smart investment can be substantial when that press release is written for a reasonable fee. But please keep in mind that writing is a skill that can take years of development, similar to carpenters, artists, electricians and actors. Professional writers deserve a fair wage for creating high-quality material. Remember the old phrase: you'll get what you pay for. Thanks for reading this guide, courtesy of Craig Martin. And best wishes with your business or organization!