Maybe you regularly write posts for your company's blog or craft newsletters to send out to your team. But a press release sounds intimidating. After all, you're moving beyond company employees or potential customers to, well, potentially anyone.
But when you look past the surface, a press release is just about communicating your story quickly and clearly. Of course, there are several tips for constructing a press release that will make that process easier and increases the chances of your story being picked up by a journalist.
Why Write a Press Release?
Before we get into the structure of a press release, it's important to understand why you should even bother writing one. While everything seems to be digital these days, old-fashioned press releases do the necessary job of informing the media about your event or a product or service announcement.
While you could just release news on your company blog or social media, collaborating with the media is also good for marketing and PR. Consistently providing valuable, relevant stories for local news outlets can function as a form of networking and helps you build positive relationships. You can also offer your story as an exclusive to media outlets and release the news more broadly after a set date. When the time comes and you really need to push a big promotion or event, you'll have an established history with journalists that make them more likely to trust you and consider your story first. But first, you need to write newsworthy press releases.
Is My Story Newsworthy?
Before you even begin drafting a press release, you need to evaluate your content. Would the story you want to promote be interesting to people outside of your company? Journalists are always on the hunt for their next article idea. You need to have enough substance to your announcement for them to use. But take it one step further.
What does your story add to the local community or the public? Are you hosting a fun event? Supporting a local cause? Presenting a way for community members to get involved? Try to imagine how the general public would receive your news and whether they'd consider it news at all.
Finally, you can increase the chances of being newsworthy by connecting your announcement to a recent issue, event, or trend. Holiday-related or seasonal stories are time-sensitive, increasing the chance that a journalist will consider it now. A press release that addresses community problems or recent trends also reveals that you're engaging with the community, not just promoting your business.
Steps to Writing an Effective Press Release
Now you understand the value of a press release and know the value of your story, it's time to start writing. But as with any form of marketing, the press release isn't just about the words you write on a page. Here's a list of steps you should take from writing tips to follow-up.
1. Provide the Essentials
Press releases are brief. Your readers are busy people who don't have time to dig through elaborate prose. Quickly get to the who, what, when, where, and why of your story. Be specific, but don't go into unnecessary detail. The press release is a bit like a resume; you want your recipients to be interested enough to call you for an interview.
2. Grab Attention with Your Hook
We know that journalists won't spend much time on your press release. But according to a Greentarget survey, most journalists don't even spend one minute on each press release they receive. Lead with an attention-grabbing point and then dive into the specifics.
3. Provide a Quote
Make it easier for your reader by giving them a good quote. Ideally, outlets should contact you for more information, but giving a quote beforehand allows journalists to craft a high-quality article in less time. But your quote shouldn't be from just anyone. Try to get the words of a prominent representative in your company.
4. Assign Follow-Up to One Person
If journalists or reporters do have follow-up questions or request a sound bite, you need to be prepared. While follow-up may not seem important in the grand scheme, designating one person to answer follow-up questions and conduct media interviews can keep the process streamlined and consistent. If your press release went out to TV or radio stations, you're even more likely to get requests for a follow-up interview.
5. Boost Interest with a Photo Opportunity
Don't just wait around for interview requests; offer your reader something more. A photo opportunity is an excellent way to generate interest in your story. In an age where stock photos are the norm, real photos are a treasure. They also generate higher rates of engagement. Your photo opportunity should be listed on your press release simply as a date and time when reporters can take photos that would complement your story.
Writing a press release may seem intimidating at first, but keep in mind that your goal is simply to communicate your message in an appealing way. Appeal to busy journalists and the public with clear information and value. For more ways to communicate the value your business, connect with us today.