Writing press releasesA guide to promoting your business online    by writing effective press releases
The modern press release   •   Once limited scope: local media outlets only   •   As news consumption shifted online, so h...
What makes good news  • New   products or services  • New   hires, promotions  • New   partnerships  • Sharing   survey re...
Keys to a good release  • Headline  • Summary  • Dateline   and Lead  • Body  • Boilerplate   and Contact Info
What to do• Grab    readers’ attention• Identify   yourself• Write    in active voice• Make    it interesting and factual•...
What to do (cont.)• Stay   objective• Pick   an angle• Illustrate   the solution• Tell   the truth, but not the whole trut...
what to avoid• Hype• Promotional    language• Grammatical, spelling     errors• Speaking   directly to readers (I, you, we...
Where to post your news   •   PR Newswire   •   PRWeb   •   iReach   •   PRLog   •   http://mashable.com/2007/10/19/press-...
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Writing Effective Press Releases

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A guide to promoting your business with online press releases. Get style & content tips and learn the best online resources for sharing press releases. From a presentation given On Hold Company (http://www.onholdcompany.com) Marketing Director Scott Anderson for the On Hold Marketing Association.

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  • Hello. Today we will discuss how press releases have changed in the Internet age and how you can use them to raise your company’s profile. Let’s get started...
  • Before the Internet, companies used press releases largely to catch the attention of the local newspaper and TV and radio stations. As people have moved to the World Wide Web to find information, press releases have moved, too. Today, companies post their releases directly to the Web, where media outlets and the public can access them directly. Press releases also are indexed by Google and all the major search engines, so they can help promote your business online.
  • At traditional media outlets, editors act as “gatekeepers” that determine what is published or produced, even on their websites, in most cases. They are looking for a story they think will resonate with their target audience. Submitting a news release to these traditional outlets is no guarantee that your news will be published. Online press release services such as PRWeb also have guidelines for what they will publish. But, because they connect to a much broader audience, those guidelines can seem less stringent. Generally, good topics for press releases include:
  • So, once you pick a topic for a press release, how do you structure it? A press release includes several key components: Headline: The headline for your press release is critical. It is the first element that both readers and search engine will process. Summary: The summary is a one- or two-sentence synopsis of the release. The summary typically is displayed with the headline in search results. Dateline and Lead: The dateline is the city and state in which the news originates. The lead is the first paragraph of the story. Put the most important element of your news in the lead paragraph. Make sure you identify your company by name at least once in the Headline, Summary and Lead. Body: The body of the press release is supporting information for the lead. This is where you include any stats, survey results or other details behind your news announcement. It’s also good to include quotes from someone in the company, usually the president/CEO/business owner. The body should be written concisely, without a lot of flowery adjectives and adverbs. Keep it straight-forward and professional. Boilerplate and Contact info: The boilerplate is a paragraph of standard information about your company that is included with your press release. And every release needs to include a contact name, email and phone number for more information.
  • We’ve discussed what to write about and the essential components of a press release, now let’s take a look at some best practices for writing your releases. The first thing you want to do right out of the gate is capture your audience. This is why a well-written headline with strong wording is so important. Make readers want to click on your headline to read more about it. Identify yourself early. Failing to do so can be a red flag that will keep your release from being distributed. Use active voice whenever possible. For example, “The Ravens dominated the 49ers in the first half of the Super Bowl” is better than “The first half of the Super Bowl was dominated by the Ravens.” Active voice keeps your release more interesting and concise. You want to tell an interesting story in order to keep readers’ attention. So don’t bog your release down with a lot of minutiae. And stick to the facts. Commentary or opinion should be kept to a minimum and must be included in quotations attributed to a company representative. A press release is not the place for “insider baseball.” Write in plain English that can be easily understood by someone who is not in the industry. Remember, you do not know who all will see and read your release. But you do know it will not be effective if it is not understood. Like opinions, limit jargon to use in quotations, and strive to explain it in context.
  • Objectivity comes into play on many levels. Most importantly, a press release is not the place to make a direct sales pitch to anyone. Speaking directly to the reader and using sales language are two things that will keep a release from being distributed. And while it is OK in a press release to toot your own horn a little bit for an accomplishment, it is not OK to slam a competitor. A press release is not the place to “blurt out” everything that’s going on at you company. Find one key point and expand on it. If you identify a problem, be sure to also identify the solution. And, like any good storyteller, leave your readers wanting more. Provide enough details to support your lead, but also tell readers how to learn more (this is usually your chance to promote your website with a link). Be sure to proofread your press release. It even helps to have someone else read your release before you post it. We don’t always see our own mistakes, and someone else might have a great idea to enhance your release.
  • Now that you know what to do, here are a few things to avoid: Online distribution gives you a lot more control of your message. But it still is not the place to hype yourself to your audience. The goal is to come across as an expert, not a huckster. Be sure to state your case without overstating it with a lot of self-promotion. Style, grammar and factual errors will cost you credibility with readers, if the release even makes it through the review process. A press release must sound independent, regardless of its source. Limit first- and second-person voice (using “we”, “you” and “I”) to quotes. Using capital letters to draw attention to a point in your press release will draw negative attention to the entire release during the review process. As in other forms of professional communication, the practice is widely frowned upon.
  • You have many paid and free options for posting news releases. Paid releases typical come with better placement across the Internet, including search engines.
  • Writing Effective Press Releases

    1. 1. Writing press releasesA guide to promoting your business online by writing effective press releases
    2. 2. The modern press release • Once limited scope: local media outlets only • As news consumption shifted online, so have press releases • Now a major player in getting your business discovered online
    3. 3. What makes good news • New products or services • New hires, promotions • New partnerships • Sharing survey results • Winning an award
    4. 4. Keys to a good release • Headline • Summary • Dateline and Lead • Body • Boilerplate and Contact Info
    5. 5. What to do• Grab readers’ attention• Identify yourself• Write in active voice• Make it interesting and factual• Limit jargon and clichés
    6. 6. What to do (cont.)• Stay objective• Pick an angle• Illustrate the solution• Tell the truth, but not the whole truth• Proofread
    7. 7. what to avoid• Hype• Promotional language• Grammatical, spelling errors• Speaking directly to readers (I, you, we)• ALL CAPITAL LETTERS for emphasis
    8. 8. Where to post your news • PR Newswire • PRWeb • iReach • PRLog • http://mashable.com/2007/10/19/press-releases/

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