1. Make it newsworthy. Are you solving a problem or fulfilling the readers’ needs?
Pinpoint what that need or problem is and write the release from that perspective. Controversy is always a powerful way of making your press release stand out.
2. Use an active headline to grab the reporter’s attention, try to make your press release active and descriptive. An active headline often has some kind of “call to action” so that the visitor is interested or intrigued enough to be knocked temporarily out of his passive surfing zone.
3. Put the most important information at the beginning
The reporter should be able to tell what the release is about right away. Use your title and the first paragraph to make sure your message gets across. In fact, chances are that’s all they may read. Use Who, What, When, Where, Why and How when you’re writing your release and you can’t go far wrong.
4. Avoid hype and unsubstantiated claims
A writer can smell a sales pitch a mile away. Instead of making over-inflated statements, provide real, usable, ideally measureable information and legitimate ways to set you and your activity apart. To promote your organisation, write a release that answers questions about your line of work and be specific rather than one that provides only general statements about how great or interesting your organisation is without saying why.
5. Be clear and specific
Use language that will get the reader as excited about your news as you are. If your release is boring or meandering, they may assume that you will not be a good interview. The reader needs to be able to visualise an activity, or know how a new service works. If in doubt, have someone unfamiliar with your work or service read the release and ask them to describe what you are trying to publicise.
6. Short and sweet is best – keep it to one page if you can
On the rare occasion, you can opt for a second page if it is necessary to provide critical details. Otherwise, if you can’t state your message in a page, you’re not getting to the point.
7. Make sure they know how to get in touch with you and give them your contact details
Make sure your release has a person the journalist can contact for more information. This person should be familiar with all the news in the release, and should be ready to answer questions. And issue the release on your letterhead – it looks professional and gives the writer another way to reach your organisation.
8. Stress the benefits
This falls into the category of “don’t say it, show it.” Avoid saying something is “unique” or “the best.” Instead, show how people will benefit – i.e. reduce crime, fight prejudice, reduce exclusion, etc. Explanation from the reader’s perspective. Give details of the news so the editor understands why it’s important to his/her readers.
10.Proofread and proofread again… did we say proofread?
If your press release has any spelling or obvious grammatical mistakes the chances of it being taken seriously is significantly impacted. If you don’t have a good eye for spelling or grammar, give the release to a friend or colleague who does. If your release looks sloppy and careless, so will you.
Let us know if you have any other tips and tricks for writing an effective press release, we’d love to hear about what has worked for you!
Photo Credit: Photo by Laihu