Content and Copy
The press release, despite all of the hype claiming that it has been killed by Google’s latest update, is one of the oldest and most respected forms of marketing out there. And for good reason: a well-written press release has the potential to be picked and used by journalists and reporters anywhere giving you and your products or services an air of instant trust and familiarity. It’s pretty easy to see why so many companies will pay to have press releases written for just about any purpose even if the content is thin and the motive is purely promotional (in a not very subtle way). But, this is just where so many businesses get it wrong: yes, a press release is promotional but, no, it isn’t supposed to look that way.
So, how are you supposed to write a good press release then? How can you walk the line between being a sales letter and an actual piece of news? Obviously this is a huge subject (if it weren’t companies like Vocus wouldn’t exist) and I’m not going to be able to do it justice in under 500 words but lets at least cover the basics.
1. Have a real reason for sending a press release. A change in location, a record sales year or a special event are all good reasons to write a press release. An example of a bad subject for a press release that I see time and again is the client who wants to use a glorified review of her/his product or service as a press release. A definite no-no that is a large part of the reason why press releases took such a hit with Google in the first pace.
2. Know your audience and write to them. If you’re writing a press release on the opening of your newest headstone outlet and your sending your press release to the editors of Seventeen you may want to reconsider.
3. Follow the format. In some fields you get extra points for creativity and originality. Press release writing is not one of them. Follow the standard format: typed, double-spaced, on white letterhead with a contact person’s name, title, company, address and phone number in the upper right-hand corner.
4. Craft a Great Headline. Create a headline that is generally no more than 11 words in length and grabs your audience attention. This is your one chance to get them reading so use it well.
5. Use good grammar and spelling. If you don’t care about your press releases why should anyone lse? Taethe time to proof-read and spell-check and you won’t regret it.
Another thing to remember when writing your PR is that you should only be writing to answer these six questions: who, what, when, where, why & how. Anything more and you’ve slipped into sales letter territory. Finally, keep it short. A page is generally the optimal length if you want a shot at being read. Good luck out there!