July 23, 2013
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Writing press releases are certainly not the most glamorous thing you’ll do as a PR professional, but they are essential. Whether you’re working for an agency, doing PR for a particular company or working for a non-profit, you’re destined to write a press release, or 10, or 50. A press release is an important step towards a successful public relations campaign. Follow these tips to make your press release stand out.
1. Write a killer headline
If you don’t have a catchy, appealing headline your press release probably won’t be read in today’s cluttered media space. Where should you look for headline ideas? The New York Times? Brilliant scientists who work for NASA? Actually, turn to copy writers for gossip and entertainment magazines. Why? They have about three seconds and a few words to attract your attention in the grocery checkout line. So, think back to the last time you picked up a magazine waiting in line at the store. What made you pick it up? Use that same attention-drawing technique to write a headline for your press release that will make your reader stop and actually read it.
2. Bring the heat early
In the same way that you zone out within the first couple minutes of your grandma telling you an in-depth story about her mom’s infamous apple pie, your reader tends to lose interest after the first sentence. That is, if your headline was good enough. Reporters are busy so tell them what they NEED to know within the first sentence. Include important points within the first paragraph.
3. Personalize it with good quotes
Quotes are like mini-stories that add a human element to your press release. Including a quote that reflects the significance of your product or event can tug on the reader’s emotions and leave them wanting to know more. If your quote is good enough, they might actually use it directly in their story. Be careful not to include too many quotes or extremely lengthy quotes. Make sure your chosen quote means something and isn’t just a filler.
4. Include hard numbers
Quotes can support your reader’s emotions but including hard numbers is what they really want to see. Support your argument with statistics, percentages and trends that will make your product or event look good. Don’t use colorful language that will confuse the reader and cloud the most important information. Make your argument, state the facts and back them up with numbers.
5. Know your reader
You wouldn’t want to pitch the new McDonald’s double decker cheeseburger to Shape Magazine. Make sure you know your target audience. Do some research and tailor each press release you send out to that particular media outlet. What do they value? What types of stories have they already published? What is their writing style? Being more specific with your audience will garner better results.
Follow these helpful and easy tips the next time you need to write a stand-out press release!
-Carly Damman is a senior studying strategic communications. Find her at @CarlyDamman.