Information is what counts nowadays, and press release, now more than ever, are part of the entire ensemble that we use to disseminate information en masse. Despite their humble beginnings, press releases have grown to become one among the forefront of what mediums and tech pieces we use in the modern realm of digital advertising and social media marketing. Beyond their use as a conventional means of spreading the word around, digitally, press releases are now more useful than ever and have even more benefits, as some would argue. Press release distribution is gaining more and more traction, and at the helm are the various press release distribution services that bring you the best of both worlds.
We realise now that all praise for press releases and their virtues might not sit right with the audience, unless we told you how you could benefit from all that; and so, with that in mind, here’s something for you to benefit your subsequent press release distribution tactics, and something that will help you stand out as a pro while dealing with a press release distribution service: the basics of a press release write-up.
Although it isn’t strictly technical and something that requires a degree from a polytechnic, there are a few caveats, really, that you need to look out for. Tips that you can ensure are integrated in your release that will go the extra mile in getting you the most out of your press release distribution campaign.
Table of Contents
The 12 press release marketing commandments
Here are the 12 basic steps that you need to take while writing a press release; regardless of what type it is. We’ll discuss each step in little detail as well to make sure the reader gets the point.
1. Know how to draft a release
The first point is pretty self-explanatory. If you already know how to do a job, you will obviously be better at it. The whole concept of ‘being experienced’ rests on this point, and is applicable in the case of press releases as well. For starters, knowing how to draft a press release will help you when you first sit down to write; knowing where to start, how to start, what things to look out for, and what words to use or avoid. These are all little details that you can learn easily, and aren’t much to worry about anyways. But, once you do get the details right, its all smooth sailing onwards, makes the job easier, and these little details go a long way into making your press release a lot better.
You can do this with a simple Google search; a lot of websites out there host information on how to draft a press release, and these are all simple instructions, that you might already have known if you’re well-versed with what happens in the marketing sections.
2. Know your audience
Knowing what to write is fine, but what about the ‘who’ part? Certainly, knowing how to write can be helpful, knowing who you’re writing it for will serve to further refine whatever it is that you are writing. Writing is an art, and knowing your audience for your art can help them appreciate it even better. Except this time, it’s a press release, and your audience will react accordingly to what you write, and it’s up to you to write in such a way that it resonates with your audience.
To further belabour this point, here’s the scenario: everywhere, writing is obviously done in accordance with the intended audience. You wouldn’t use Harvard-grade vocabulary for a children’s book, and similarly you wouldn’t go with ‘cat rhymes with bat’ on ‘The Harvard Review’. Similarly, your press release obviously has an audience which it intends to permeate. Be it CEO’s, the Hollywood party or the average joe, the content on your press release needs to be tailored to that very audience. What words to use, what examples to cite, which quotations to use, and how to mould the write-up in such a way that it resonates with the audience.
3. Follow the structure, the format
Before we get into the textual particulars of a press release, you need to understand that journalists and the people who will interact with your release initially have lots of other press releases to wade their way out of. Which means that they skim through the release, and if they like what they see, they keep it. If, for example, they go through a press release and see that it isn’t very well-formatted and lacks the absolute basic structure and format of a professional press release, it’ll go straight into the bin. Which is why, formatting and structure is important, and gets even more relevant nowadays when automation is the game, and computers check everything.
The structure, the format is pretty simple. Date (for publication) goes at the start, headline on top, boilerplate in the start, and contact information prominent through the text. This is how it goes saliently. The rest of the details are made evident to you once you get in this whole process once or twice. Basically, the point being made here is that know the structuring, know the formatting and you and your press release will be fine.
4. Go all-out creative with the headline
What’s the one thing that can get the reader attracted towards your press release more than a crisp $50 note in there? A good headline, that’s what. Because nobody is going to read all that bulk of text unless you top it off with the metaphorical cherry on the top of the sundae that is your press release. And we don’t mean regular creative either, we mean push the boundaries kind of creative, one that grabs the reader’s attention and gets them by surprise.
A ton of press releases out there start with some boring, banal headline like ‘ABC company records a growth of over 25 per cent for fiscal year 2022’. Would you read that? Would anybody who’s looking for something to read or watch during their meal want to read that. No, with an added expletive before it. Instead, your headline should be the kind that grabs the reader’s attention, all the while keeping in mind the kind of audience you will have. So, for instance, keeping the above-mentioned example, we have this headline, one that’ll take the banality out of the statement and bring in some fresh words, like ‘25 per cent in a year: here’s how we did it and how we’re celebrating’. This is a headline that will at least compel people to look at it and try to read it, which is really what you’re trying to do.
5. Include all the relevant details in the first paragraph
Continuing with the theme of knowing that people won’t read more than 100 or 200 words from your press release, your goal now is to ensure that what you need to convey, you convey it in the first few lines or the first paragraph of the press release. It is now widely known that attention spans have been in the declination for the past few years, and now stand at around 25 to 30 seconds, which is adequate if you can get your message across to the people within that time span.
Which brings us to the press release, and the inherent problems with the content in a release. You see, it relies a lot on words, the more the merrier kind of thing. And so, if you want to exploit that attention span problem, you need to put your most relevant and imperative information in the first paragraph or the first 100-200 words, to make sure what audience your headline captured gets to the point you want them to read first. And this is why you include your most relevant information, basically the point you want to get to the people, in the first paragraph.
6. Make it newsworthy
Delivering information is what press releases do, and so, delivering information that is already out there is redundant. And so, with your press release, what you need to do is to introduce an angle of newsworthiness, that the information that you are providing is both relevant, needs attention and possibly action, and is simply, news. This is what newsworthiness is all about; making an angle out of information that might not necessarily include news or any angle of it, and might just be information that isn’t relevant.
For instance, suppose Tim Cook steps down as CEO and somebody else ascends to the position. Apple Inc will do what it does with every iPhone launch; get a press release out explaining what’s happened and who’s to blame now for the next really stupid notch design. For many, this is news. There is no need for an ‘angle of newsworthiness’ in this instance, all you need is a good headline and you’re set. Remember: information that isn’t news can be changed into news, and this is what you should be doing with your press release.
7. Garnish your release with quotes
Quotes are the ketchup to your French fries (which is your press release). It’s a garnish that your crisps can do without, but probably won’t sit well with your palette. Press releases can go out without quotes, there’s no hard and fast rule about it. But, including them will always be a plus and will never backfire (unless you add the wrong type), and will further complement the content in your press release.
Again, as we did with the headline, simple and overused quotes from your CEO or Benjamin Franklin won’t cut the mustard. You put them in, you’re basically showing the world you’re still one of those ‘copy-paste’ firms that look for a quote on Google and paste the first result that comes up. No. Show some ingenuity in his regard and go for quotes that, like your headline, stand out from the crowd and subsequently make your press release stand out from the crowd.
8. Don’t miss out the pertinent details
Contact information, relevant names, people of interest or people to look out for and address for an event are some details that are pertinent. And if you don’t include them in the press release, well, you might as well aim for the bullseye and land in the trash bin. Because like we said earlier, within the attention span that you are afforded, you need to cram in all those details within that 100–200-word window. And so, missing out the pertinent details isn’t something that you can really afford to do. Make sure that your press release contains all that a person in your audience might need to make sense of whatever it is that you are trying to tell them: if there’s an event you are trying to get the people riled up for, the particulars (venue, who’s going to be there and others) need to readily apparent and highlighted so there’s no problem for the person getting to it.
In short, all the details from the address to the contact information needs to be readily apparent and easy-to-read so it isn’t a problem for the attention-deficit us in knowing what we need to do once we’ve interacted with the press release.
9. Use multimedia, graphics, pictures to your advantage
The modern press release is a far cry from what press releases used to be all about. Now, instead of writing some thousand words about why your old CFO had to be booted, you can simply show a picture of the new person being hired and put in CFO beneath the picture and all will be understood easily.
The point here is that the modern press release allows you to attach pictures, graphs and whatnot in the form of multimedia, which you can then use to make your press release attract even more people. Attach relevant pictures, graphs to drive home your point and other multimedia formats like videos to say what you mean in just the video, not the bulk of the text. It is something that will immensely benefit your press release, and the added advantage is that most press release distribution services have this feature for free.
10. Use SEO for the best results
Search Engine Optimisation is really hot right now, as everything we do alludes to a search engine nowadays (mostly Chrome). And so, SEO is something that the modern press release has integrated within itself as a pivotal part; you utilising them for your press release is nothing short of a masterstroke, a winning move that will benefit your press release even more, especially in the realm of press release distribution.
11. Email your PR to targeted media contacts
Email outreach is imperative, despite the fact that many mistake it for being an outdated mode of information delivery. It helps you further your press release distribution, and so, where every view, every click and every impression counts, you can ensure that the numbers are made even better with the inclusion of email marketing, from which your press release is sure to benefit a lot.
12. Proofreading the entire thing before sending it out
Lastly, when you’re done writing up the entirety of your press release, stand back, and give each and every word a good, hard look. Run it through an error-checking software preferably, and make sure that the press release you put out does not have any error in it; not of a verb, no spelling error, no typo, no nothing. It needs to be an impressive document, as impressive as the Harvard Review. Because even a typo can mess up the press release pretty bad, and if you’re not careful, could end up reducing your masterpiece of a press release to something people read just to laugh. So here’s to the press release distribution companies that will take your product and launch it into the stratosphere: do your job.
Read also: How to Write a Press Release for an Event