How to Write a Press Release
f you’re looking to increase the effectiveness of your public relations efforts, it’s important to understand the essentials of how to write a press release. The positioning, tone, structure, and quality of writing can all have a dramatic impact on how your message is perceived, and whether it gets noticed in the first place. In today’s crowded media environment, hundreds of press releases are competing for attention at any given moment. By following the 12 tips outlined below, you can help your press release stand out and make the right impression.
1. Choose Your News Wisely
First and foremost, make sure your announcement actually qualifies as news. Your press release should be timely and relevant, and contain new information or tie into current events. Never repurpose existing marketing content under the guise of news, and never use a hard-sell approach in a press release. Reporters and readers are likely to ignore anything they perceive as an advertising message, and are inclined to regard the sender of such content as a spammer.
2. Position Your Message Carefully
Before initiating any press release, consider the news angle from your audience’s perspective. Why should they care? What’s in it for them? How will your news make their lives better, or easier, or more productive? Examine every aspect of your announcement through that filter to determine the positioning of your story, and ensure that your press release delivers real value to your readers.
3. Adopt a Journalistic Tone
To maintain a proper journalistic tone, your press release must be written in the third-person. Never use the second-person (“you”), as that form is typically associated with advertising and marketing communications. If you wish to include any subjective commentary or opinions, they should be positioned as a quote and attributed to an appropriate source.
4. Hone Your Headline
Your press release must have a concise and compelling headline to capture readers’ interest and entice them to read the full story. If your headline fails to break through the surrounding clutter on busy news sites, you’ve wasted your opportunity—along with the money you spent on press release distribution. The headline should clearly identify your company or product name and the topic of your press release, and it should also include your primary keyword(s) for search engine optimization (SEO) purposes.
5. Write an Inviting Intro
Assuming your press release is able to hook your audience with its headline, it needs to reel them in with the intro. Within the very first sentence or two, you must convince reporters and consumers that your news is worthy of their time and consideration. Be sure to include the essential elements—who, what, when, where, and/or why—as close to the beginning of your press release as possible; you can go into more detail later within the body copy. Also, in keeping with SEO best practices, always include your primary keyword within the first 25 words of your copy.
6. Optimize Your Copy
Once you’ve captured readers’ attention with your headline and intro, propel them through the rest of your story with carefully crafted body copy. Be aware that the quality of your writing will most certainly influence how people perceive your announcement. Amateur or hastily written content can reflect poorly on your business. If your copy comes across as vague, confusing, boring, condescending, unprofessional, or blatant marketing hype, readers are likely to dismiss your news, negating all of the effort and expense you have invested in it. Aim for clean, polished, and succinct text, with relevant SEO keywords interspersed thoughtfully throughout.
7. Substantiate Any Qualifiers and Claims
Many companies rely on qualifiers to grab attention and set themselves apart from their competitors. However, any claims—such as “first,” “only,” “largest,” or “best”—must be substantiated. If a competitor were to challenge your assertion, you must be able to provide evidence to support your claims.
8. Include a Quote
Quotes add interest and a personal aspect to corporate announcements. This is the only part of a press release in which it is acceptable to include subjective opinions or commentary. Always include the name, title, and affiliation (company) of anyone you’ve quoted within a release. Avoid attributing statements to “a company executive,” “a satisfied customer,” or other unidentified individuals. If you happen to be quoting a study or article (as opposed to a person) within your press release, be sure to cite the full name of your source within body copy or as a footnote.
9. Keep Your Boilerplate Informative but Brief
Every press release should end with a standard boilerplate, which is a two- to three-sentence summary that explains who your company is and what you do. A boilerplate also provides an added opportunity to incorporate important SEO keywords. Read more on how to write an effective boilerplate.
10. Include Comprehensive Contact Info
Always provide the name, title, and phone number of your press contact. This should be someone who is authorized to speak to the media on behalf of your company, and who is available to field journalists’ calls on short notice. (Avoid listing high-level executives who are not able or likely to respond to reporter requests in a timely manner.) It is also a good idea to include a physical address and an e-mail address in the contact information.
11. Leverage Links
Keyword-rich hyperlinks are a great way to optimize your press release, improve your search engine rankings, and drive traffic to your website. However, be aware that some news sites strip text links out of news releases, so always include a full URL at least once within your press release, preferably within your last paragraph of body copy and/or boilerplate. In addition to including your primary website URL, consider adding social media profile links to help build your Twitter following, Facebook fans, and/or blog readership.
12. Consider Your Word Count
Ideally, the total length of your press release should fall somewhere in the 500- to 800-word range. (That includes all copy, from the headline to the boilerplate and contact info.) If your announcement is fairly simple and straightforward, 500 words should be adequate. If you need to cover a lot of important and relevant details, aim for no more than 800 words. Your word count should also determine the number of links embedded within your text, as search algorithms often take link density into account. The general SEO PR rule of thumb is one link per 100 words.
13. Don’t Forget Your Close
To signify the end of your press release, always include the characters “# # #” or the word “- End -” at the bottom of your press release, centered below the boilerplate.
Enhance Your Press Release With Professional Writing, Editing, and Proofreading Services
When you understand how to write a press release, you can greatly improve your chances for success. But if your goal is to create the best possible impression and ensure your is release on par with other leaders in your industry, consider enlisting the help of a professional writer or editor.
PR Syndication is aware that many small businesses simply don’t have the budget to retain a full-time writer, editor, or public relations specialist on staff. That’s why we offer a variety of press release writing and editing services to suit our clients’ individual needs and budgets.
Every client using our press release distribution enjoys the benefit of our three-step professional proofreading services at no extra charge, minimizing any chance of typos, errors, or omissions.
Our professional editing services elevate the overall quality of a release—with special emphasis on the headline and intro—and are designed for clients with some writing experience, while our professional writing services have the capability to transform a rough draft, outline, or work order into a beautifully written, attention-getting announcement.
The premium Editor-in-Chief/SEO Writing Package offers our highest level of professional expertise—including personal consultation with our editor-in-chief and director of interactive marketing—and takes care of all the details, from planning, positioning, and keyword research, to a meticulously crafted final product.
To learn more about our professional writing, editing, or proofreading services, click on the respective links above, or contact us with any questions you may have. We’d love to hear from you!