Writing and Distributing Press Releases

Use online press release services.

There are lots of great online services for getting
your press release out there without spending an arm and a leg.

PRWeb.com (http://www.prweb.com) has a great mix of tools for distributing press releases as
well as hosting high resolution images, permanent redirects for URLs and a podcast
feature for certain levels of press releases. PRWeb.com also offers a trackback URL
on press releases so blogs are encouraged to link to them. Other highly regarded
online wire services include PRNewswire.com, BusinessWire.com and PR.com.

Don’t forget the “5 Ws”. Who, What Where When, Why (and How) are the most
important questions that you should answer in every one of your press releases.
Omitting even one of these answers will leave your audience with incomplete
information. Have someone proofread your release and ask them to note the “5 Ws”.
If they have trouble quickly identifying any of these key points then a rewrite is
needed.

Consider hiring a pro to write your press release. Make your press release stand
out by having it written by a professional public relations consultant or agency. They
have experience and know how to get across the right image for your business and do
it in a way that will get the attention of the media. Of course there is cost associated
with this, but even one mention in a national publication will mostly likely give you a
substantial return on your investment.

Avoid hype when writing a press release. When you are writing a press release for
your business, be careful to avoid words that are designed to sell instead of inform.
For example, “one of a kind”, “amazing” and “the best” are too much hype for a press
release. Instead write your press release as though it is an interesting story designed to
inform rather than sell the reader.

Tell them how to contact you. Believe it or not, one of the most commonly forgotten
pieces of information in any press release is the contact information. How will people
find you if you don’t tell them? Always include a clear statement at the end of every
release that says exactly how you can be reached. Most experts recommend including
a contact name, website address, email address and phone number if possible.

Never follow up immediately after you submit a press release. If you start
contacting a report or editor immediately after you submit your press release, chances
are that you will do little more than annoy them. And people who annoy members of
the media usually find their releases end up in the garbage! Instead, allow a couple of  ways to
Effectively Use Public Relations (PR) days for the receiver to contact you. If you get no response within two days, follow
up with a quick phone call. But whatever you do, be sure not to call at deadline time!

Make the headline enticing. Whether you are sending a pitch letter/email or writing
a press release for publishing, you need to pay special attention to your headline or
subject line. If you are sending an email, and the subject line does not grab the
publisher’s attention – it won’t be read. If you publish a press release with a boring
headline – it won’t be read. Keep it interesting and enticing so that the reader wants
to learn more. One trick for attracting more attention is to use a number in the
headline or email subject line such as “10 Ways to Tell if Your Husband is Cheating”
or “What 73% of People Say They Will NEVER Do”.



Address the biggest benefit right in your headline. When writing your headline or
subject line for a press release or email pitch letter, a great technique is to include the
biggest benefit of your product or service. This will attract the attention of the reader
and get them interested before they read a single word of your actual release. It’s also
great for press releases that you distribute online because it also works very well with
potential customers who stumble across your release in the search engines.

If at first you don’t succeed, change your approach. If you published a press
release but don’t seem to be attracting a lot of new customers then it might be time to
revisit your approach. One of the nice things about public relations, and press release
distribution in particular, is that if your first attempt does not work you can easily
modify your strategy for next time. Try rewriting your press release with a different
angle or tone. Or consider hiring a professional writer who will take a different
approach than you did.

Longer is not necessarily better. Although in the past the average press release
tended to be 1,000 words or more, that is not necessarily the correct approach today.
Nowadays less is more! If you can say it in two pages then great. But saying it in one
or less is even better. Start writing your press release by trying to condense everything
you want to say into 120 words. It will be challenging, but if you are able to weed out
unnecessary words you are more likely to get and keep your target audience’s
attention.

Keep your introduction to under 40 words. If you are unable to express the point of
your press release in 40 words or less, then chances are that you are trying to cover
too much in your release. Remember, you want to make each press release about only
one newsworthy event. Whether that’s your big launch, an important new partnership,
the results of a survey you conducted, a charity you’re donating to… whatever the
topic is, it should be very focused. If you have other things to announce then write
multiple releases.

Don’t use attachments when submitting via email. Internet and email security is a
hot topic these days. If you are sending a press release or pitch letter via email it’s a
good idea to avoid using attachments. Otherwise, there is a very high likelihood that
your email will be deleted, filtered or even considered spam. In fact, most reporters
are being instructed by their companies not to open email attachments at all to avoid
infecting their computers with viruses.

Keep paragraphs short and to the point. Once you’ve written your press release,
check to see that none of your paragraphs contains more than 2 or 3 sentences. If so,
then you are trying to put in too much information or you are using more words than
you need to. Remember, members of the media read a lot of releases and they need to
be able to get the information as quickly and easily as possible. If you make them
work harder by using long paragraphs and complex sentences they’ll get tired and
move on before they understand what your release is even about.

Focus on the first ten words. The first ten words of your press release may just be
the most important. The purpose of these words is to grab the attention of your
reader, and let them know that the information contained in the release is relevant to
them. So don’t waste this important opportunity with a weak introductory paragraph
that gives little information. Try to give the Who, What, Where, When, Why and
How in the first paragraph and then use the rest of the release to elaborate on each
point.

If you don’t have a reason to publish a press release, don’t publish one. This is an
important rule to follow. If you don’t have something newsworthy to announce, then
you should simply wait until you do. Far too often businesses write releases on things
happening in their company that no one else cares about but them. If you’re looking
to create some news, take time to get involved in a charitable event, run an interesting
contest, conduct a survey or develop a new product or service. These are just a few of
the many ways that you can create news that is worthy of a press release.

Write your press releases for humans AND search engines. Although they may
look for different types of information in a press release, humans and search engines
both want the same thing – great content. Learning how to write a press release so
that reporters, potential customer and search engines all find it useful is time well
spent. Once your release is written, research two or three relevant keyword terms that
are related to your press release and that people would actually be searching for. Then
ensure those keywords are included in the title, first paragraph and last paragraph. Be
sure that your release still reads naturally and does not sound like you’re writing just
for the search engines. This can be tricky at first, but with practice you’ll soon find
writing optimized press releases takes very little extra time.

Don’t forget a link to your site. When submitting a press release online, be sure that
you include a link to your website. According to a press release published by
BusinessWire.com, 9 out of 10 submissions that they receive do not include this
important piece of information. Don’t miss this great opportunity to send people to
your site to learn more about what you do, download your special report or join your
newsletter.

Don’t expect that your press release will be printed verbatim. Once you submit a
press release, it’s up to the media how they want to use it. Sometimes it simply
triggers a story idea for them and your business or product ends up not even getting a
mention. Unfortunately that is just how it goes sometimes with PR. Don’t be
discouraged if this happens to you.

Use the forums as a good test of what is newsworthy. Online forums are an
incredible resource and should be an important part of any public relations campaign.
Not only are they a great way to research your market, meet potential partners and get
the word out about your products and services, but they can also be invaluable in
helping you test your press release ideas. Make a post on a forum related to your
business about the “news” you are considering writing a release about. Use your best
headline idea as the subject line and then see what kind of response you get. If no one
reads your post then chances are it is not news that others care about!

 

   

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