5 Things You Need to Know to Promote Effective Use of Press Releases
Written by Elizabeth Kraus
Gone are the days when it was necessary to have a newspaper or television reporter on site to garner media attention. Today, you can take matters into your own hand (no pun intended) to write and publish your own press releases, which may be picked up by hundreds of media outlets in a matter of a few days; especially if you play by the press release publishing rules. Having your business “in the news” whether it be online or in print is a valuable way to gain brand awareness and you can do a press release for a new service or product, a new hire, a retirement, an award or just about anything else you think is newsworthy about your business!
Once upon a time, not so very long ago, articles on how to use press releases as part of a marketing strategy focused as much on how to develop relationships with local journalists and editors as they did about writing the press release itself. In the here and now, you can type out a press release, publish it and find that hundreds of digital media outlets have “printed” it online – all in the course of a few hours.
A quick Google search can yield lists with dozens of sites where a press release can be published for free, or you can opt to use paid press releases services, where you can choose among paid options with guaranteed distribution to hundreds of online media outlets.
Whichever course you take, or even if you are only going to publish your press release on your own website or blog, you can improve the reach of your press releases by following best practices for writing and optimizing your press releases for online search.
Here are five keys to writing a good press release that will help your content go even farther:
1. Keep Your Eye on the Prize
Before you begin writing your press release, decide on a goal. This will help as you try to drive home the main points for your press release and influence your choice of keywords, anchor text, and other factors that can increase the reach of your content. Common goals for organizational press releases include:
- Building brand awareness
- Attracting qualified leads
- Being perceived as an industry or topic expert
- Driving public interest in a program
- Increasing sales
2. Follow the Fail-Safe Format
While the specific format may vary publisher to publisher, press releases follow a fairly standard format. Generally, every press release will include:
- A headline in bold, with the first letter of each word capitalized
- An introductory paragraph which tells the reader what the press release is about
- An opening paragraph introducing the topic. This may include a mention of the organization or individual sponsoring the press release, such as, “The ABC Company is proud to announce…”
- An eye-catching image that is:
- illustrative of the topic in some way
- provides a pop of color to catch the eye, or,
- features a person / people with the image either engaging the reader or looking back toward the article copy
- A callout or quote
- 3-5 paragraphs in total length; with paragraphs of 2-3 sentences each. Use keywords or variations of your keyword phrase as they would occur naturally in conversation – avoid overuse of keywords.
- Anchor links; use keywords or a key phrase as a hyperlink back to your organization’s website home, product or program page
- Summary paragraph with information about what the reader should do next or how to get more information
- Triple asterisk (***) between summary paragraph and corporate or author byline
- Corporate or author byline of 1-2 sentences, ending with, “For more information, visit .”
- Contact information, including Name and Title of contact, Company or Organization Name, Phone Number, Email Link and Links to Social Networks
3. Work Up to Wow Factor Quickly
While a great story might leave its most pivotal plotlines and morals to the end, you should touch on your most compelling points early on in your press release. Packing punch or even adopting a controversial point of view in your opening paragraphs can help you capture the attention of your readers and keep them reading through to the end or motivating them to take the action you want them to take next.
4. Mark the Memory Point
Good press releases create memory points with members of their intended target audiences. Memory points can be reinforced with compelling statistics, inspirational quotes and images.
5. Stimulate Readers to Take the Next Step
A press release can be a door-opener. As you write your press release, do not lose sight of your goal; ultimately, an effective press release does more than inform a reader, it motivates a reader to find out more about your organization, a product, a service or a program.
Usually, this will come in the form of a click through to a website, phone call, booked appointment, or visit to your organization; but just remember that you need to tell the reader what action you want them to take next at some point in your press release, and make it as easy as possible for them to take that action.
It used to be far more difficult than it is now to ensure that a press release would be picked up by media outlets so that a message could reach its intended audience. While it is now easy to publish information, it is still difficult to capture the attention of readers. Adopting a strategic approach and fine-tuning your press writing skills can help ensure that your content reaches farther so that you can achieve desired results more quickly.
A visual guide to crafting the perfect press release:
Elizabeth Kraus is the owner of Be InPulse marketing and the author of 365 Days of Marketing, the 2014 Small Business Marketing Calendar. Kraus has written annual marketing calendars for small business and niche industries (available on amazon.com) since 2009.