Every day, we have loads of different conversations with everyone around us; some are about everything and nothing and go on for absolute ages, like the chats we have with friends. Some, however, have more of a purpose, like a quick office meeting or a rundown of the house rules for someone visiting you.
And if you think of a press release as a conversation a brand has with consumers, it’s definitely the second type. Simple, short and to-the-point, letting everyone know about new products, services, or developments in your company.
How Long Should An Effective Press Release Be?
300 – 400 words or about three or four short paragraphs, that’s the magic number. Any longer and publications probably won’t look at it, or your readers might not get to the end.
And because it’s 2020, why not get interactive with it? The more videos or images your press release contains the better – research shows that multimedia press releases get 9 times more views than text-only ones.
Hey, if you wanted to, you could make your entire press release a video or image because the more exciting your packaging, the more likely people are to take notice. You could also consider a social media press release (more on that later).
What do Press Releases do And Why Should You Write Them?
This sounds obvious but it’s actually really important – before you even start, you need to ask yourself why you’re writing this. So many companies make the mistake of writing press releases for topics that aren’t newsworthy, so don’t be those guys.
Here are the best reasons to write a press release:
- You have a new product to launch.
- You have a new service to launch.
- You’re discontinuing a popular product or service.
- You have some kind of news that will, in some way, affect your consumers.
And that’s it! Anything else should be left to the content guys and email marketing specialists really.
How Do You Make Headlines?
Good journalists get hundreds, sometimes even THOUSANDS of press releases in their inboxes every day. So the age-old question is, how do you stand out?
Well first off, you can’t just tell the story like it is. To write an effective press release you need attention-grabbing headlines and that starts with an angle.
Here’s One Example:
Say you currently own a car company, manufacturing mostly SUVs and family sedans. Your cars will now be made with noise-canceling technology, ensuring that they are super-quiet inside.
A bad headline for this would be:
Our Cars Now Come With Noise-Cancelling Technology.
You’re telling people what it is but not why they should care. Now, a good example of a press release headline would be:
New Noise-Cancelling Tech Will Revolutionize Kid’s Car Naps.
So in this one, not only do you have an angle, you’re also speaking directly to your target market. You’re telling them what your new product will actually do for them and that’s important.
You can check out some more examples of effective headlines here.
Structuring Your Press Release – First Section
Most press release layouts are the same as any other news article and they must include the all-important WHO, WHAT, WHERE, WHY, WHEN.
Your first few sentences are also known as ‘the top line’ should tell the whole story, fast.
Once you’ve announced your news in your press release headline, you want to expand on it in this section, but don’t be tempted to put your entire backstory in this paragraph! In journalists’ terms, this should be your WHAT, so, this way, even if readers don’t get past the first paragraph they’ll still get an idea of what your announcement is about.
Structuring Your Press Release – Second and Third Sections
Your following paragraphs should be your WHY and your HOW, including some supporting information and quotes from relevant people. Also, it’s important that your quotes aren’t made up of jargon; they should sound exactly like a natural, everyday conversation.
Okay, but how do you end a press release? Your final paragraph or ‘boilerplate’, would normally have a little bit of background about your company or brand and some contact details. Also, make sure your grammar is perfect, and the way you convey the message is clear.
In today’s world, it’s always great to include your social media handles in the contact details, especially if you’ve got an impressive following and beautifully curated page.
Make Sure You’re Ready To Publish
Way back when press releases were something a journalist would use to write an article, but times have changed and now, a press release is an article. This is because most of them are published online rather than in a newspaper, so you need to keep that in mind when you’re writing.
As I mentioned earlier, journalists are really under a lot of time pressure with virtual piles of press releases competing for their attention. So, if yours is ready-to-go, clear, and appealing they’re far more likely to publish or share it.
Distributing Your Press Release
If you’ve been doing this for ages then go ahead and skip this section. If however, you’d like some awesome tips for even more reach, read on.
Firstly, you’ll want to find journalists who write about your specific product or industry, as they’re far more likely to take an interest. It’s also worth trying to build a relationship with them via LinkedIn or other social platforms before you send your release through.
Secondly, you’ll want to craft a killer pitch. How? Well, it’s simple: You keep it as short as possible – we’re talking a couple of sentences, to begin with. And most importantly, personalize it!
Timing Is EVERYTHING
It’s often overlooked but, WHEN you send your press release out is as important as ‘why.’ You only have one chance to distribute and if you send at the wrong time, it’s almost a guarantee you won’t get noticed.
Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays are seen as prime sending days, as journalists are most likely to have cleared urgent matters from their inboxes and will probably have more time to read new emails.
Turning Your Press Release Into A Blog Post
This is another great way to get more value for your money and ensure even more reach. Plus, on a blog, you can make your press release a little longer than those 300 to 400 words which could be very helpful if you have quite detailed information to convey to your audience.
You should remove your ‘about company’ section from the blog version of your release and make sure your headlines are really catchy. Also good to consider – this doesn’t have to be text-only, here you can use videos, infographics, photographs, and even GIFs to get your message across.
Using The News to Your Advantage
The truth is, most of us are so focused on our own work and lives that we often fail to connect the dots. If you can observe your environment, watch a little news, and somehow link what’s going on out in the world to the product or service you’re releasing, you have an even better chance of catching the right people’s attention.
For example, if you’re about to launch a range of solar cooking equipment, you should trawl some news sites and find out the latest stats about solar energy vs electricity and whether there are any pertinent trends in this area. The more relevant you make your press release, the more it becomes an actual marketing tool instead of just some new information.
A Social Media Press Release
What’s that? Well, simply put, a social media press release isn’t just an article, it’s a live document that lives on the Internet with images, videos, and social posts detailing your new product, service or news – it’s what used to be known as a press kit, it’s just an online version.
What are the pros of a social media press release?
They outperform plain text press releases by a whole lot.
According to the Pew Research Centre, 89% of Americans are now getting their research online. It’s also easier to have one link for journalists and influencers to access your content than having to send multiple versions of your email pitch.
Modern Press Releases
The wonderful thing about the ‘new’ style of press release is that you don’t have to be restricted. It can be a single tweet from an influential person (there’s even a ‘press release’ hashtag you can use), an Instagram post, or a highly targeted email ensuring you reach just the right people.
Of course, the more communication assets you have the more people you’ll reach but you really can let your imagination run wild.
The truth is, press releases are not dead. Far from it – in fact, they can increase shares and likes, bring more traffic to your site and generate international interest in your brand.
The rules for writing a good press release though, are pretty much the same as they’ve always been. Whether you’re publishing something that’s pure text or has rich media elements, your press release should always have a simple, clear message conveyed in a thrilling way.
And make sure that whatever you say is in line with the tone of your brand. This is your ultimate opportunity to connect with your consumers and let them know who you are and what you’re about, so go for it!