How to write a press release


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How to write a press release

  1. 1. How to Write a Press Release for Guaranteed SuccessLuckily, with press releases, there are enough insider tactics to talk about andI’m sure that unless you are an absolute veteran at writing a killer pressreleases (in which case you don’t need to read this content, do you?) this blogpost is bound to teach you a new trick or two.Oh well. I’ll let you decide.Common MythsFirst, I want to dispel a few common myths associated with press releases andtheir success.Guaranteed SuccessPress release firms, whether in distribution or providing writing services, playup their distribution numbers, but apart from a few mentions of using a storyangle and legally bound to say that distribution does not guarantee success,there is scant mention of the reality of press releases.Unless you are a big company, where the mere mention of your name constitutes astory in itself, your press release will NOT be successful just because it wasdistributed across the desks of newspaper editors across the country.Just writing an ordinary press release that focuses on your company anddistributing it across the region (or country) will not bring you realpublicity. Promotion through a press release comes only with packaging yourcompany information within a story so compelling that reporters will want to runit.More is Better This works in two ways:First, writing long press releases will NOT give you a better chance at sellingthe story. Reporters are always on a deadline, and need to digest and assimilatethe information given to them as quickly as possible.They will read your headline, and if they like it, move on to the summary, andif they like it, move on to the lead, and so on. Just like it is sensible adviceto curtail your resume, your press release has the same time and space limitsapplied to it.Second, sending out multiple press releases in quick succession is generally abad idea (unless, once again, your company is a big brand and generates interestjust through its name).
  2. 2. A press release is supposed to promote how your company contributes to theindustry or society in a meaningful way ’ do not trivialize the process byexaggerating every little detail about your company’s operations.A Press Release is the Best Method for Promoting Your BusinessA press release can do your business a whole deal of good ’ provided that youhave a hook that reporters would jump for. With or without the hook, youmust remember the time factor involved in using a press release. Your pressrelease has just 2-3 days at most to make an immediate impact.If there is no response in the first few days, chances are your press releasedid not do as well as you thought.Don’t end up depending on press releases as the sole element of your marketingstrategy.A press release is a marketing tool, just like search engine marketing is atool. It is good for generating immediate publicity, but just one press releaseis not very effective in the long run.On the other hand, search engine marketing tends to yield long-term results thatshow a ROI only after a few weeks’ time.Diversify your marketing outlook and make press releases a part, and not thesole objective, of your marketing strategy.High RankingsDoes a press release really bring you high rankings? Press Release SEO, I wentinto some detail about how your press release can be used to increase yourwebsite’s search engine rankings.The problem is ’ promises made about high rankings fail to mention that yourpress release MUST be covered in a news report to generate any sort ofsubstantial link-building ’ a critical component for high rankings.Over the long-run, press releases will gradually improve your search enginerankings. Take note that a significant increase in rankings from a single pressrelease will ultimately depend on the success of the press release.
  3. 3. Another point to note is that the purpose of press releases is NOT to improveyour search engine rankings ’ it is to promote your company in the media andgenerate positive publicity, which in turn would hopefully lead to increasedbusiness.Search engine rankings come from strategies focused on improving them, and thatis where a comprehensive search engine marketing strategy comes in to play.Learning how to write a press release or how to send out local press releasefree can be the difference between an indifferent response and a substantialreturn on your investment. You will only learn with time, but by using theadvice in this book you can jump-start the process.Better yet, use the Success Factors explained next to do the following:’Give your press release a polished, professional look.’Write in the tone the media is looking for’Learn more on how to wrap your story around your company, and not the other wayaround.Success FactorsLet’s get started. A Specific PurposeThe first factor in making a successful press release is to understand that apress release has a specific purpose. A press release is meant to relay aninteresting story to the media.That is NOT why you would write the press release, however. You would be writingthe press release with the view of promoting your company or how to write apress release for a new charity event.On the other hand, journalists are looking for a story. If it involves yourcompany, so much the better for you.But no one in the media is looking to do you a favorunless you do them one first(by sending them a story they can publish and make the paper, and themselves,look good).Forget search engine rankings. Forget promotion. Focus on writing a true,compelling, interesting story that involves your company.Follow the Right StyleA press release is written according to a specific style. It is meant to inform,not to sell. Yes, I’ve said this before: Cut out the sales hype, remove any
  4. 4. exaggerations. Focus on the facts, your story and write to inform.The best way to learn doing this is to follow the style that the media mostcommonly uses. How do you do this?Pick up a leading newspaper (Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, etc.) andabsorb their style. Learn how the top reporters write.Of course, you shouldn’t copy them completely, but the idea is to develop awriting style that the media is familiar with, and in addition, is known tosucceed.Know Your MarketYes, you’ve read that personalizing your press release for a particular marketwill increase your chances of publication within that market. But that’s not allthere is to it. When you are writing for a particular market or event, you haveto know the following:’What news and angles are the most popular in your industry?’Who makes up your eventual target readership ’ that is, the people who will getto read about your press release if any member of the media decides to run it asa story?These two factors will help you pick the most relevant ’hooks’ for thejournalists, as well as mould your writing style and language to suit youraudience. An example of this is Google and their press releases.Before the IPO, Google maintained a comfortable, non-formal style of reporting.Following the IPO, as investors began to take serious interest, Google’s pressdepartment developed a style more in line with the corporate world.A niche market will always have a loosely-defined personality ’ people who sharecertain interests, have similar emotional triggers, have the same hobbies.Look to tap into that personality and use it to your advantage.Building SuccessA press release is a time-sensitive tool. If it doesn’t generate publicitywithin a few days, it has not done its job. On the other hand, one successfulpress release does not transform your company into a media darling.So what do you need to do in order to consistently be in the media spotlight?Over a long period of time (6 months, a year maybe), build upon one successafter another by regularly providing the media with thoughtful, riveting’hooks’.
  5. 5. Just one press release won’t cut it ’ you have to produce top-quality and akiller press releases time and time again. Build on the success of one pressrelease by copying what works, and eliminating what does not work.After a few press releases, you should have a pretty clear idea of what styleworks best and more importantly, you will be able to define an identity ’ astyle specific to your company, using your press releases.Learn From the BestMuch of your knowledge of how to write a great press release will come fromobserving other writers. Whenever you see a company being reviewed in thenewspaper, follow it up and check their press release.Are they doing something you haven’t done? Is it just their brand making theheadlines, or has this company really achieved something newsworthy?Distribution ’ Building Your ReputationI’ve said this several times:If you are NOT a big company with a recognizable brand name, no big publicationwill run your story unless it is really good.Unfortunately, there are times when big newspapers won’t accept even a greatstory for lack of space and / or time.To beat such rejection, start from the bottom of the ladder. In the battle ofsmall vs. big publications you will always have a tradeoff between having yourstory heard and getting big publicity.Local publications tend to give much better response rates, and are a wonderfulopportunity to build up momentum for your company’s publicity.
  6. 6. There have been several cases of big publications picking up on stories startedby small newspapers. This is no guarantee, but what is certain is that if yourpress release is accepted for publication by a small newspaper, you will have abetter chance the next time to pitch your story to the bigger fish.The maxim ’start small, think big’ works wonders with press releases. BuildingSuccess, a previous Success Factor, talks about taking a long-term approach tobuilding your presence in the corporate world.Use a similar approach in building your reputation ’ start with the smallnewspapers (using the techniques mentioned in the next Success Factor) and whenyou start getting published, move up to the major leagues.Your company’s past publications will give you the leverage you need to be heardand seen in bigger and bigger newspapers.Combine Manual and Service DistributionAre you worried that your press release will not get the due attention? Are youundecided about going the personalized way with manual distribution and the’mass-approach’ method of distributing your press release through a distributionservice?Factor: Building Your ReputationPitch your story to a few local newspapers and gauge the response. If they areinterested, and plan on running your story, that means you’re doing somethingright ’ let them run the story and follow it up with a service distribution,targeting a large number of publications within your industry.What if they are not interested?If you are turned down, there can only be two reasons:’Your story isn’t good enough ’ in which case it’s back to the drawing board.’Your story is not a match for their publication ’ in which case you should re-evaluate your research and find another newspaper more relevant to your industryand target market.As your reputation builds, you’ll be able to leverage your past exposure andpublicity to approach bigger publications. After you win over your citynewspaper, it’s time to move on to the state-wide, and from there on, nationalpublications.The reason?A personalized approach can work wonders for your publicity ’ it is the perfecttesting ground for your press release ’ you can test its market value withoutspending a dime.
  7. 7. The only problem with manual submissions is that it takes time and effort. Ifyou and your employees cannot manage it, you will have to hire someone on theoutside to manage your press release distribution for you. In that case, you’llend up paying just as much for a single pitch as you would for nation-widedistribution.Bottom line ’ if you have the time or the personnel to make a personalizedapproach to a newspaper editor, use the opportunity to test your press release.You can always spend money on sending it across the country later.Dealing with RejectionHaving your press release fail to generate any leads is a bitter pill toswallow, especially if it was your first attempt at writing one. You may betempted to send your press release again, this time to a wider market, but thatmight be just a waste of time and money. Instead, follow these steps:Analyze your press release objectively. Does it lack a good ’hook’? Is there aproblem with the format? Does it read too much like a sales letter? All of thesefactors can harm your chances and cause you endless frustration.Did you pick the right publication / target market? Maybe your distribution wasfocused too narrowly, or in the case of a personalized approach, maybe youpitched to the wrong type of publication.Rejection is not necessary a sign of failure. The key is to realize what hasgone wrong.Does Timing Matter?This is fairly over-looked point in press releases. There is every indicationthat timing on a press release matters, but that has as much to do with sendingout your press release on the right day as it has to do sending out your pressrelease on a busy ’news’ day. Let’s look at them one by one.Does sending out your press release on any particular day matter? To ascertainextent, yes. On a general note, newspapers tend to receive the largest amount ofpress releases slated for a Monday publication, and for some markets the weekendmakes for considerable interest. Unsurprisingly, the mid-week is slightly lessbusy.How much does this matter to the success of your press release? If you havefollowed the advice in this book, and especially kept note of the SuccessFactors, your press release should receive publication without having to resortto marginal tactics such as sending on a particular day. Of course, the timingwould become critical if you wanted to build publicity for a particular event.
  8. 8. And that is probably the main answer for this question. Don’t worry so muchabout sending out a press release on a particular date for acceptance; send outa press release with the specific purpose of building the maximum amount ofpublicity possible. What does that mean?Send out your press release for publication on the busiest day, so you cancapture the biggest slice possible of your readership.Another very important factor to consider is that you avoid having your pressrelease clash with the press releases of major players in your market.Sure, your eventual aim might very well be to replace the leaders of yourindustry with your own company, but when starting out, you will be muscled outin a head-to-head contest with no second thoughts.Let’s face it. You wouldn’t want to be in the unfortunate situation of having aneditor decide between running the story of a leading pharmaceutical company(your competition) and running the story of a newcomer (your company) in themedical technology field.What to do? As part of your marketing strategy you should already be doingresearch on your competition. Keep tabs on the market leaders, and ensure thatyour press release will not clash with any predicted news release.It’s not possible to pre-empt their every single move, but if you were to makethe obvious mistake of drumming up your new software on the same day thatMicrosoft released Xbox’well, that’s a pretty bad mistake to make.With all that you have learned in the content, you should be well equipped tohead out and write your own press release. With the help of Press Release hottopics, there is no limit to the help you can get from the Internet and thisblog post.And yet this content would not be complete without asking for your commentsbased on the discussion. If you have any idea on how to write a press releasethat will attract traffic, you are invited to share your thought on the Facebook
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