There are many forms of advertising. A press release is one of them. It is a very efficient way to let a company’s current and potential customers know about new events, products, or services. That said, a press release must be really compelling and well-written in order to grasp the attention of the target audience. Large businesses achieve that aim by hiring professional PR agencies staffed with copywriters who know all the niceties of the job. However, their services cost money, which smaller companies often can’t afford to pay. They have to write their press releases with no help from outside. Alas, without knowing the basic rules of press release writing, the quality of their documents leaves much to be desired. Any skill, including that of writing, can be learned, though. Here are 10 basic tips on creating an appealing press release for anyone with serious business aspirations.
1. Begin your press release with a good headline
The headline is an extremely important element of a press release. It serves several purposes. Above all, it must grab the reader’s attention so that they will want to continue reading. Secondly, it is a good search optimization factor. So, it should have a keyword phrase that pinpoints your message. The headline must be very precise and contain news for your customers in the “who does what” format. It’s a good idea to include somebody’s name in the headline. That can be the company CEO’s name or the name of the business itself. Remember that the headline is the first thing an editor will see. So, it must be good enough to serve as a subject line of your email as well.
2. Don’t beat around the bush in the first paragraph
Along with the headline, the first paragraph of a press release is another attention-drawing medium. If you write a vague, uninteresting opening paragraph, the reader will not bother to read the second one. In the first paragraph, you must make an emphasis on what benefits an event or new product will bring to your customers. Put everything that really matters in the first couple of sentences. You only need the rest of the text to support those essential points. That said, your first paragraph should not answer all the questions. Leave the “How?” and “Why?” for the next paragraphs.
3. Avoid using the first or second person
You should write your press release from the third person only. Never use the first or second person. A text full of sentences with “you” may be taken for spam. Only amateurs use “you” in their press releases. If you do want to write a sentence from the first person, enclose it in quotation marks and give a reference to the person who said it.
4. Use quotes
Using quotes in your press release will make it more natural and credible. Quotes give additional first-hand information that customers will appreciate. Of course, the first person who should comment on what the press release covers are the CEO or another senior executive. A really good document, though, should also include the customers’ reactions as well as an independent expert’s opinion. There are several important things about quotes you should remember. They should have a paragraph of their own, without any unrelated information, and should be short: just a couple of sentences. Also, refer to the person you’ve quoted, but avoid using words like Mr. or Dr. If you have two quotes following one another, insert a transition paragraph between them. Finally, only give real names of the people from the quotes.
5. Have a section about the company
You should have a special section in your press release with the information about your company in brief. Here, you can write a few words about the business, what sets it apart from the rest, and any successes you have accomplished. You can also put links to the corporate website and blog. If you place your logo in this section, too, it will contribute to the better recognition of your brand among customers.
6. Assign a contact person or people
Your press release must also contain the contact information of a person or people in the event an editor will need more details. Some editions may not even consider your press release without that data. The person to be contacted must know about the existence of the new document and immediately answer any questions either through email or by phone.
7. Make no grammar or spelling mistakes in the text
Needless to say, your press release cannot contain a single grammar error or typo. Even with the most sophisticated computer error checking tools, no one is immune from writing two “l” instead of one, for example, or making any other almost imperceptible mistake. Find another pair of eyes or two to proofread your text. If you send your final document with a typo, there is a risk the editor will refuse to publish it.
8. It should not only be text
A press release with graphics in it looks more credible and professional. Whenever you cite someone, try to include a headshot of that person. Whenever you give some numbers, support your words with a chart or table. Apart from graphics, you can also attach a video or audio file to your email.
9. Avoid using too much industry-specific language
Try to write in a simple language without too many terms specific to your industry. Of course, you will hardly be able to avoid them altogether, but keep them to the minimum at least. That way, even people who have never heard of your company and products before will find your press release readable. As any professional copywriter will say, sentences must be short and clear.
10. Other considerations
Your press release should not be long. Make it a page or two at the most. You can also divide your text into several sections each with its own subhead. That will help readers who like skimming to quickly understand what the document is about and whether they need to spend their time on studying it in detail. Finally, give only facts and figures, not fiction. Using epithets and metaphors in a press release is a bad idea.
If you want your business to grow and attract new customers, a press release is a powerful advertising tool. Follow our guidelines to write professional-looking documents that any editor will be glad to publish.