Writing a Press Release That Gets Noticed

Every day, publicists, companies, and ordinary citizens send out tens of thousands of press releases to the newswire.  Of those press releases, some seem to stick while others fall by the wayside.  Some people are convinced that throwing together some flashy marketing words and blasting it to the media in a press release will automatically drum up the type of support and excitement necessary for a good news story.  Unfortunately, it doesn’t work that way.  The truth is that there is an art to writing a good press release.

Why a press release?
Press releases are very common in the very traditional field of public relations.  The goal of a press release is to curry favorable media attention and publicity for your goods, products, or service.  Press releases can be used to publicize anything and everything from public events, product launches, job promotions, earnings reports, or even reputation management.

Deliver more than just facts
In the past, businesses wrote press releases to deliver bare facts.  The hope was that a journalist would be intrigued enough to write a story about the event mentioned in the press release or at least mention it in passing.  Today, you have to face the facts that the media is a very fast-paced entity and no one has time to develop a story from your random press release.  The Internet has caused journalism to move at a very rapid pace.  Whatever you are attempting to say in your press release needs to be informative, succinct, well written, a most importantly, it needs to have an angle.

Choose a good angle
“So what’s your angle?”  Press releases that get noticed almost always have a clear angle.  An “angle” is the direction or slant from which your press release is presented.  Essentially, the best way to determine your angle is to ask yourself the important question, “Why should anyone care about this?”   It’s important to know the answer to that question in order to write a press release that gets noticed.  If you don’t know why anyone should care about your announcement, then why are you announcing it?

Press releases that get noticed do so because they are written in such a way that makes the announcement relatable to whoever reads it.  For example, a press release announcing that actor Michael J. Fox is starting a new company, might also mention that may people know Fox from when he starred as Alex Keaton on the popular family sitcom, “Family Ties.”  Just a simple turn of a phrase can help readers of your press release feel like the story is more interesting.

Follow the press release “rules”
The quickest way to have your press release go unnoticed is by not following the proper format.  Using the proper press release format ensures your press release is presented in a professional tone.  Every press release should include the following sections:

•    Headline – Much like a news story, this section is the first thing people will see.  Use this as both a summary and a marketing blurb.
•    Dateline – This section contains the date of the press release and generally, the city and state from which the release originated.
•    Introduction – This is the first paragraph of a press release and should contain introductory information and introduce the who, what where, when and why.
•    Body – This is the main text of a press release.
•    Boilerplate – This “about” section is used to get the audience up to speed with neutral information on the individual, company or organization issuing the press release.
•    Close – The symbols “###” should go at the end of a press release to indicate the close.  These symbols should always end after the boilerplate.
•    Contact info – This section contains media contact information for the issuing party.  Standard inclusions are name, email address, mailing address, and phone number.

Nail the headline and introduction
When it comes to making an impact, there are two sections of a press release where you can really get the reader’s attention:  the headline and the introduction.  Treat these two sections like you would a story in a newspaper.  Newspapers specialize in writing headlines that cause the reader to pick up the paper.  In the digital age, great headlines are what cause us to click through and read the entire story.  When writing your press release, choose a headline that informs, but also intrigues.

Press releases aren’t very long, so it’s important to pack as much valuable information as possible into the introduction.  Don’t just announce facts.  In stead, present the facts in a way that draws the reader in.  Tell a good story.

It’s important to give your press release the same treatment as any other marketing document.  A well-written, professional yet personable press release will always stand out from the crowd.

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