‘Press releases’…something seems quite ancient about the phrase. The issue is, people presume nowadays that press releases are a thing of the past, after all, we have social media to promote our businesses and ideas, right? ❌ Wrong! ❌ Press releases are absolutely essential to any business or individual seeking to gain exposure in the media.
Press releases lead to:
• Instant exposure to varied audiences, accumulating credibility.
• The opportunity to brand yourself as an industry expert.
• A demonstration of how your business is a disruption to the status quo of your sector.
• Increased traffic to your website.
• An affirmed relationship with journalists.
• A cost-effective way to attract investors.
• Improved SEO for your website, as they will back-link to your business.
Sound good? Well, without further ado, let me explain how to write an effective press release
1. Make sure your story is newsworthy 🗞
Before you even put pen to paper, think about what you find interesting when reading, watching, or listening to what’s featured in the media. What takes your interest away from your morning coffee and engrosses you into an article? ☕️
To make it newsworthy, follow these simple rules:
• Timeliness: tell your audience why it is important now, do you have a unique perspective on a current issue? Think about 'news jacking', wherein you inject your brand into a current news story.
• Impact: how will the readers lives be changed by your story? Will your story be of interest to the publication's target audience?
• Proximity: do you have a local angle? How does this make you unique?
• Prominence: does you story relate to someone famous?
• Human interest: do you have a human and emotional connection? A personable story will resonate with your audience and create social traction.
Check out the TRUTH acronym on ProCopywriters for an added tip.
2. Catch my eye with your headline 👀
It’s the first thing your audience will see and it’s what will entice them to read on. Journalists receive hundreds of emails each day so it needs to stand out.
So, how do you write a killer headline?
• Make it simple, journalist's do not have the time to decipher cryptic messages.
• Use numbers- quantify your story, such as ‘5 ways in which a press release will benefit your business’
• Use the word ‘how’, e.g. ‘How one man and his app will transform the drinks industry’
• Put the location in the headline, e.g. ‘London council tax rising’
Struggling? No need to worry, try out your headlines on this headline analyser.
3. Summarise your story in the opening paragraph ⏱
Your opening statement should complement your headline whilst teasing some further details. A good opening paragraph should be able to stand on its own and essentially explain the entire article. Janet Murray from The Guardian believes 15-20 words are all your need to summarise your story.
Think of it as a news bulletin, imagine Fiona Bruce summarising it for you in those first 5 seconds of the news. Also, have a read of your local newspaper lying around, see how the professionals do it.
If you’re a small business owner, have a read of Murray’s tips here.
4. Answer these questions...❓
Remember learning about the 5 'W' questions in school? Well now it's time to implement them into real life...
Who: who’s involved in your news story?
What: what’s happening?
Where: where did your story take place?
When: when did this happen? Is it current? (should be 😉)
Why: why is this information relevant to the reader and journalist?
How: how will this information impact your audiences day to day lives?
Not sure how to identify your target audience? Have a read of these useful tips.
5. Be concise 👩💻
The ideal length of a press release is about 300-400 words, that’s a few paragraphs. Try writing a draft first, then go through a cut out all those unnecessary filler and fancy words. No waffle please, reserve that for the dinner table...
Background information may seem relevant, but trust me, it’s not what they want to hear. Get straight to the point, sell yourself! Bullet points are your friend, they make information easy to read and are the perfect tool for displaying statistics.
6. Quote 🧍♀🧍♂️
Quotes give you the personable element to your press release; they are your insight, not facts. Including quotes from people within your company will aid journalists, give creditability to your new business, and explain to your audience why your idea will benefit them.
Need further help? Have a read of these extra press release tips.
Intrigued about how to gain further visibility in the media for your business? Have a read of our tips for Tech Startups here.
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About the Author:
Evie is a published writer, living and working in London. She’s a PR Assistant and Copywriter at GuidedPR. She holds a BA Hons in History from Royal Holloway and has accordingly worked within the culture sector and legal industry. You’ll usually find her scribbling down words in a coffee shop with a flat white in hand.
Find Evie on LinkedIn.