POWERFUL Press Release–part 2

The Headline. And when to use a Subhead.

Of the 5Ws, the headline is the most important. When creating the headline, make it effective. Use this guide: Be Informative; Keep it Short; and Make it Relevant.

It’s ok to be creative, but not so much that it sounds like an ad, or too creative that it sounds untrue. Don’t mislead or make false claims.

Headline Examples

“Incredible Technology Boosts Mileage For Diesel Engines”. This is too sensational. Is the technology really incredible? What is the amount of the Boost? And is the technology new?

Stay away from headlines such as, “Limited Time Only! Amazing Deals On Step Ladders From The RV Ladder Store! Only $299!”

Although extreme, this does happen. Businesses get excited about their sales, or discounted products thinking it’s newsworthy.

Headlines should be 60-80 characters. Use a subhead to further explain the news. Subheads have added information to support the headline and not intended to be a stand-alone title. Here is an example.

Headline: “New York Couple Wins a Yamaha Quad at the Charity RV Show Last Month”

Subhead: “This is the first time Bill and Kathy Jones entered a contest and won”

Headline tips:

  • Make the headline impossible to ignore. Keep away from false claims and over sensational words.
  • Create interest so the journalist will want to continue reading the release.
  • Check for spelling errors. This is critical. Don’t just rely on spell check, proof read your headline for accuracy and clarity. Have someone else also proofread.

Body of the release

The opening paragraph should be concise. Use the 5Ws in this section. Keep the first few sentences short and to the point. The next paragraphs should fully explain the purpose of your release. Keep it informative. If you use quotes, they should be from someone prominent or important to the company.

End the release with “For more information, visit https://www.yourwebsite.com, or call Tim Daly at (555) 555-1111.

The boilerplate is a short paragraph that explains the identity of the company and what it does.

When to submit your release

As a general rule, Monday is a very busy media day and Friday reporters are usually finishing up stories. Wednesday and Thursday are typically good days to send your release. Tuesdays are also good. No matter what day you choose, always send releases before 9 am Eastern Time.

SEO Press releases

Yes, even press releases should be optimized. When not sending your release directly to a journalist, but to online news, using keywords and phrases will increase your rankings. Choose specific wording your customers type when they search for your type of product or service. The Internet can help you reach your target customer. In this case, your release becomes a mini webpage. Don’t “stuff” too many key phrases into the release. Stick to the guidelines we discussed, just optimize it. Include a photo(s) or video when possible. This will increase visibility and rankings.

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.

Press Releases ON-Line

Use the media that offers wide reach, on-line releases

If you are a pr pro, or in the publicity industry, you need to make sure that you are using all the resources available.

This means print, broadcast and of course, on-line.

Writing releases for the mass media, such as the print industry, requires information for the editor to feel it is newsworthy. This we already know. One important point is to make the release fit that industry. Sometimes its revising one or two paragraphs to make the release more appropriate to that readership.

Now lets move to on-line.

While print releases can be two to several pages long, on-line releases should not exceed 800 words. Actually it should be closer to 650 words or less. Don’t go the opposite and write something only 400 words.

As much as readers on the net like short reads, we want to feel that the information has value and content and was beneficial to us.

Keep the on-line source as part of your media mix when distributing press releases.

Another critical secret in on-line releases is to embed, or provide links. This cannot be done with other media outlets like broadcast and print. Don’t go crazy with links on every sentence, and make sure these links are support for the release.

The next step is to distribute the releases. Use a service that you know can handle on-line distribution as well as traditional. Some of these companies are PRNewswire, Bacon’s, and Business Wire. Also, remember to add the releases to your own web site.

One more thing you need to make sure you are doing to get the most of a release. In your web site, create a navigation button titled newsroom, pressroom, or something similar. Place the releases, and/or stories published in that section. Now you have an additional on-line presence with your releases.

See Also

What Makes a Good Press Release

Writing a press release for the media

This same old problem still exists. No matter how many articles or blogs or books you read, people still forget the basics to writing a good press release for the media. The focus is the "media".

I’ve seen pr people say that there are 10 tips, some say there are 7 tips, publishers will write an entire book with lots of tips. So who’s right?

Everyone. What makes a good release is that you first make sure it has news value…newsworthy, to the reader.
If you feel this is what you have then you need to identify your media. Trade publications should be identified differently than consumer, or general media. You need to write the release differently, not just the opening statement.

Now, rather than give you 7 top points, which is how Joan Stewart describes her point of writing a release (and I am not commenting in a negative way, she has good points), I will give you the brief version.

Make the release accurate with all the information. This includes your contact information should the reporter or editor want to contact you for further information.

Keep the release short, not more than two pages. And keep the "sell" out of the release. This is to be an informative writing, not a sales letter or sell sheet.

Now you need to distribute the release. This can be done via email, traditional mail, and/or fax (if it is high priority and needs immediate attention). Keep in mind the reporter, or editor reading the release is a person who has a lot to read to decide if YOUR information is something of value to their readers.

See Also

Each Word Counts in PR

Be proefficient when speaking

Publicity is more than a form of media. It is an art.

Knowing your target media and the industry is essential in developing a good and successful publicity program. Just as important is knowing how to speak to reporters, journalists and editors.

Choosing the right words when talking to these people can help you gain favorable publicity. But before you can speak to these media reporters, you need to send pr releases, articles or stories to them to get their attention.

That means the written word is powerful. It can make a reporter  contact you to further learn about your product or service, or it can be tossed out like most releases.

Learn what to say by choosing the right words is something that everyone needs to know. One person in particular, Ann Wylie has several tips on how to prepare and write a release. Some of the issues she explains are: Write a Feature lead; Lead with Benefits; Try a Tipsheet; Give a Bio and use Human Interest to name a few of her suggestions. I tend to agree with much of that information.

Another great source in learning better public speaking is Arie Galper. Although he teaches you how to "Unlock The game" for sales calls, he has a vast of experience in teaching people how to present themselves, which can easily be applied when meeting with the media.

After learing these powerful lessons, you need to make sure that you have a PR Plan in place. I strongly believe a solid publicity program coupled with your on-going marketing program will create a successful image. And that’s what you should be developing. The results of a positive image will then build the business.

To implement a PR program, seek the help of a professional company. There are a lot of good pr firms who can help you achieve your goals. If you need help in finding one, contact us. We will direct you in the right direction, whether we can do it for you or find a company that best meets your requirements.


See Also

Talk, Talk, Talk

Know what you’re saying

Communication. That’s what Advertising and Publicity are all about.

The better you can communicate, will improve your chances of getting your message in front of reporters. Communication, as you know, is how you use words. It is in the writing, and in the speaking.

Although reporters like to write their own stories, they are more receptive to someone who has presented their story in a well-prepared manner.

That’s why you should never think you know it all. As long as you are alive, be willing to learn from others. I’m sure we can all improve our communication skills.

Reading books, or listening to tapes on "How-To" will help guide you. It is the actual doing that makes your talents sharper. Learning these skills will also improve your image.

After writing your release, or story, or articles have someone other than a co-worker read it. Listen to their comments. See if what they say makes sense and “consider” making changes to your article.

This type of input can provide you valuable insight to improve your writing. Don’t be afraid to make changes. And don’t get caught up in the creative side of your writings. Remember, you are writing for the readers, not for yourself.

These few tips should be helpful. If you need more guidance and want help in writing your first series of releases, or an article, give me a call. And together we can get your company noticed!

See Also

PR Template and Finding The Media

Searching for the right publications

I have been asked several times to explain how to write a press release and where to find the media.

It is difficult to draw a template about writing a release in these short blogs. If you feel that you have the talent to write the release than hiring a copywriter, I suggest visiting webwire who will give you a template, or format to follow. Once this is learned, you can make some modifications that suit your specific needs. But be aware; don’t wonder off creating a unique format, because this will only get your release tossed out.

Reporters do not like trying to understand your release by digging through a lot of colorful words, or hiding the "important" stuff somewhere in the body of the release. So check out this site, it might save you a lot of time.

Good question. First you need to identify the market that you want to reach. If it is in the business industry, or more specific in the financial or accounting, or is your business in the entertainment industry…you need to target your market first.

Once this is established, you can locate sources of publications to reach. You can visit the library, or search the web for a company that provides a media list. There are several to choose from.

Now you can collect the information you need from each publication, such as editors name, publisher’s name, press release editor (some media have specific departments for releases), etc. Be sure you have a phone number as well to follow up after sending the releases.

Ok, hope this clears up some of those questions. If you still need help, contact me directly. I’ll be happy to get you going in the right direction.

See Also

Press Release Distribution Methods

With all the different ways of distributing your press releases, or press kit which is the most productive method? Is it email, snail mail, special delivery letters, registered mail, courier service?

There isn’t anyone specific way to reach a reporter and have them read your release. What? You thought there was a magic process. I can offer this, the methods that most reporters, editors, and journalists prefer.

First, let’s review the email process since it is the newest form of communication. Do reporters and their peers prefer this? Most do not. What they prefer is you tell them in a very short message (maybe 30 words of less) that you will be sending a press release, or story for their review. Tell them what will be in the subject line so they will be watching for it. The reason you shouldn’t send them the release initially is their "in box" gets full quickly, everyday.

Think of all the junk email you receive. Well, reporters are not protected from emails that should have been directed to another person, or department. So what they will do is delete most messages, unless it is from someone they know (remember when I said you need to build a relationship, well this is when it helps), or are looking for a message that you sent them about a release that was coming.

And don’t send them CD’s or a lot of downloaded information. Keep it short, and to the point.

As for methods of sending, yes, traditional snail mail is still the most widely accepted. Because reporters like organizing files on their desk and making notes on releases and stories they receive.

All the forms of communication are good. What makes a release get noticed is the follow-up. Phone calls and follow-up emails are good. But don’t be annoying; be considerate. Keep a log of what and how you sent your release to the reporter. This will keep you organized and know what works best for you. If you need help writing a good release, try contacting a professional so that you can learn how to communicate like a pr pro.

If you want to discuss this further, give me a call. I’ll point you in the right direction.