Calling all public relations professionals… this one’s for you! We should know how to successfully write a press release like how we know the back of our hand. But, sometimes we could use a little reminder of press release writing best practices. So here you go!
A press release is an official statement that is sent to reporters, journalists, columnists, influencers, basically any type of publicist. They can be about an event your client is hosting, a cause they are supporting, a problem they are trying to solve, truly anything about your client that is newsworthy. When a press release is sent to a news source, they can evaluate if they think it is newsworthy and decide if they are going to write a story on the topic, or not. If they choose to write a story, GREAT!! Free press!! But, if they don’t, what went wrong?
We are going to break down eight tips and tricks for you to consider and guide you when you are writing, editing and sending off your next press release.
1. Is the story really newsworthy?
Every story is newsworthy, well, that is if you find the right angle to present the story. For example, if your client is opening a new location, what do you write about? Yes, the new opening is something to look forward to, but it’s not unique. You need to find the angle that makes your client stand out. Are they featuring a new menu at the new location? Do they have new and improved equipment? Find what makes the story stand out in their field and that should be the focus of your press release.
2. Have a catchy title.
The title is going to be the first thing the reporter reads. If it is a boring or overused title, the reporter is going to read the email headline and immediately send the email to trash. However, if your title is catchy and/or unique, they are more likely to open the email and read through your press release. Reporters receive hundreds of pitches and press releases daily, so yours has to stand out in the crowded inbox.
3. Send the press release between 10:00 a.m. and 2:00 p.m.
When sending a press release to a reporter, we must be mindful of their time. Typically, we all arrive at work around 9:00 a.m., get settled, check our daily tasks, greet our coworkers and then get to checking our email. Well, reporters do the same. Realistically, by 10:00 a.m. they are ready to dive in and sort through their inbox. We also don’t suggest sending anything after 2:00 p.m. to be mindful of their time.
4. Put the most newsworthy statement right in the opening paragraph.
As we stated earlier, first you must hook the reporter with a catchy title, but if they open up the press release and aren’t immediately wowed within the first few sentences, they aren’t going to finish reading the email. Therefore, when planning out and outlining your press release, make sure you have all the juicy details right in the beginning. This strategy follows the funnel effect that us marketing professionals have been taught about for years. This refers to putting the most eye catching, interesting information at the top and dwindling down to the more, you know, nitty gritty details at the end of the piece.
5. Include quotes.
When possible, adding a quote to a press release makes it all the more interesting. By including a quote relating to the topic of the press release, it will give readers something to relate to and connect with. It will also cause the story to feel more “human,” meaning giving it more emotion. Along with this, the reporter will find the story more newsworthy if there is a client testimonial within the press release.
6. Address the correct reporter, journalist, columnist, etc. in your email.
Okay… this might seem obvious. But do you know how many times marketing professionals have quickly hit send and didn’t realize they had the previous reporter’s name on the email? Too many times. So, quickly read over it again, and maybe one more time before hitting send. Who knows, you might even catch a little grammatical error to fix!
7. Include contact information.
Again, I know you’re thinking “Well, duh.” But you would be surprised by how many times a press release has been sent to a reporter and the reporter wants to write about the story and they have no one to contact about additional questions. By including a member of your teams’ contact information, those extra questions can be asked to ensure the correct story is being published.
8. Track your hits.
After sending a press release off to the targeted reporters, you will need to monitor those news outlets to see if your piece is a hit. If your piece is about a pressing, immediate event or issue, typically the reporter will try to get the piece out the door that day. But, if it is a longer, feature-type story, the reporter will want to ask you some questions to ensure they are writing the best story. Either way, you will need to monitor the news and continuously check if your press release has been published. Brownie points for you AND your client when it does get published!
So… are you ready to write a kick-ass, attention grabbing press release? We think you are!
Interested in learning more marketing knowledge? Check out our other blogs highlighting more tips and tricks!