Tips for writing press releases

Press releases need to be written as a newsworthy article, but in one page. Too often pr clients, or even professional pr writers put too much fluff into a press release and not the facts. Maybe it is because the pr client wants to believe that their news is more important than those published. That isn’t a reason to not follow the unwritten rules of writing good press releases. newswothy publicity

Here are a few tips that we follow in the industry. Follow them, and you will have a better chance to get published.

1- Is the topic newsworthy? Announcing the new position of a person in your company may be news to you, but not to the reporters or editors. Even an open house isn’t “big news”. This doesn’t mean those releases won’t be published, but the odds are not very high they will. Try putting something exciting into these. For example, for an open house, announce that you are having a guest speaker, or will be offering something to the community.

2- Make your intro paragraph interesting, not a sales pitch. Give the reporter/editor something that wants them to read more.

3- Be sure you follow the AP style/formats and that it is grammatically sound.

4- Is the release fact based and well documented?

5- Make sure the message matches your target audience.

6- Be sure all the proper contact information is listed.

These are just a few of the important tips you need to write a good press release. Also, keep it to one page if possible.  Your list of media needs to be considered when submitting the release. But that’s another topic. If you search Google for “writing press releases” you will see that these tips are mentioned by most all professionals and editors in the industry.

A New Marketing Tool For Publicity

Behavorial Targeting

Another marketing tool for publicity is called "Behavioral Targeting"(BT). This term is in most respects new. It addresses how people are purchasing on the Internet.

If you have a publicity campaign and your pr client is selling a specific product to a selected market, then you need to know and learn about BT.

An author of this is Jack Smith. He addresses this new tactic so that marketers and publicity professionals can locate their pr client’s audiences faster and more cost effectively.

Mr. Smith best describes the BT marketing as follows: "BT does its job by tracking what people do online: the pages they visit, where they click and how often. It filters the anonymous results into marketing-relevant categories of those with like behavior and like tastes." Just reading this description should show you that BT is needed in all areas of marketing and publicity.

With budgets getting tighter, it now means that smart marketing and publicity targeting are more important to be effective. You can no longer run a series of “testing campaigns” to see what works best. I am not suggesting you eliminate tests, just limit those by doing the BT study of customers for your client’s products. This will then help to isolate the target audience so that your results can be more productive.

Mr. Smith’s “5 step plan for BT beginners” has a lot of examples, but can sometimes be confusing. His examples are based on fictional companies and products, which is ok. Sometimes it is unclear when trying to follow the steps. But in all fairness, it does help you get closer to learning about behavioral targeting.

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How to get publicity ready for the media

If you are following the publicity tips from yesterday, then you are ready to develop the press release, or story.

The headline you create for these should grab the attention of the editor, but not mislead them. Keep it short, to 12 words or less. Sometimes you might need to include a sub-head to help further make your point about the uniqueness of your product or service.

The format should also be easy to read. For example, if the release has urgency, put the words “for immediate release” on it. Have the contact information for the writer to call if he or she needs more information, at the top right side of the first page.

All body text should be double-spaced. Don’t type in all caps; this is annoying and difficult to read. Don’t use a lot of bold type either. Whenever possible have quotes from a senior level person of the company, or a third party who is endorsing the product.

It is best to have the release or story presented on company letterhead; this adds credibility to your presentation. For press releases, keep it to a maximum of two pages. Unless you are providing a chart or other visual aid. Articles and stories should be limited to 5 – 8 pages with support materials like photos, graphs, or charts. Always include any references to support your claims of the products uniqueness.

In all, keep the information you write factual, not sales copy. If you reviewed your media list, consider re-writing some of the body copy, or modifying the titles to fit the publication’s target audience. Send those re-written pieces to specific publications. For example, if your product has two market applications, the “consumer” editor will want to see something that is directed to their readers. Unlike a trade publication, they would want to see a product that not only fits a consumer demand, but shows retailers how it can increase sales.

Preparing your release or story like I mentioned will get you further into an editor’s or writer’s hand than someone who types a wordy letter and includes a “sales pitch style” release with dinner tickets to get their attention.

Now you’re ready to mail these out, right? Yes, go ahead. When a reporter calls and asks for additional information or a media kit what will you send them? You don’t know? You don’t have a press kit? For those who need to know what to say, and how to prepare a press kit, watch tomorrow’s article. I’ll explain that process.

See Also