Your Five Point Perfect Press Release Checklist for 2013

 January 9, 2013

It’s a new month, a new year and the perfect time to take stock of your press release writing skills and how to get the best out of your releases in 2013!

One of the simplest and most effective ways of getting back into the writing groove and blowing off the holidays snowdust is the Five Point Perfect Press Release Checklist.

1. Is my headline specific?
A headline that accurately summarizes the content of the news release does more than tell readers what to expect. Search engines will rank a piece higher if the headline matches the content.

Use specific descriptors—e.g. “search-engine-friendly news release” rather than just “news release”—and skip flowery adjectives or hyperbole. There are room for them in the main body of the release.

2. Did I use active voice?
Passive voice uses three or four words where you only need one, and slows down the impact of a great headline.

Replace a passive phrase like “K-12 school Lincoln Academy has been selected for recognition of achievement by ABC” with an active phrase such as “ABC selects leading K-12 school Lincoln Academy for recognition.” A small, subtle difference but one that will make a significant difference.

3. Can I chop three words from my headline?
Brief is best for headlines, both for readers and search engines. After you write your next headline, cut it by three words.

This may seem hard at first, but it’s easier than you think and a useful discipline to employ. You can easily eliminate “a” and “of,” which is doubly beneficial because search engines stumble on these words. Be ruthless without making the headline unreadable.

4. Does my release answer the five Ws?
Tell your story like a journalist by answering the five key Ws within your first paragraph if possible: who, what, where, when and why.

Your next two or three paragraphs should contain the additional details about your story, plus a quote from someone involved in the story who can explain what this news means to your business or customers in plain speech.

5. Did I do a five-step proofread?
Spelling and grammar errors in your news can turn readers off-fast. Take five minutes to work through these proofing tips for the most flawless news release written by a human:

  • Read your release out loud. Break up any patches that are difficult to get through. Will also help you identify any words that don’t scan well or spoil the rhythm of your writing
  • Solicit a second (or third) set of eyes. Sometimes we cannot see the wood for the trees, especially with our own writing and any word looks like it is spelled incorrectly if you stare at it for long enough.
  • Read your story backwards. Because your brain knows what you meant to say, it’s easy to miss errors when you read conventionally. This simple trick is more useful than you realize.
  • Focus on the numbers. All percentages should add up to 100, and all phone numbers could use a quick Google search just in case your have accidentally encouraged potential clients to call a dry cleaners in Brooklyn instead..

Print it out. You may focus better if you don’t stare at the same screen you wrote your release on. Also the act of getting up and retrieving your printed copy will give you the quick screen break to refresh your eyes sufficiently

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