Bragging with style: Effective press releases

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Write press releasesWhen an established publication chooses to print positive information about you or your organization, that’s not just free advertisement – that’s validation. You can grab that priceless space, whether in print or online, by learning how to write effective press releases.

So, if your organization has earned bragging rights for an event, accomplishment or significant development, grab your pencil and get ready to write: Below are some tips to help you write press releases that are professional and more likely to spark interest.

Create a newsworthy angle
To write effective press releases, first develop your story to make sure it’s newsworthy. That will help ensure it grabs the attention of editors and entices them to include it in their publications. For example, instead of using your press release to announce your new CFO, focus on the new direction the CFO will take, how this will positively impact the organization, what customers and investors can expect from this new hire, etc.  Angle the story of the press release to show how readers might benefit by your organization’s actions.

Important things first
Once you begin writing, make sure to structure your press release like a news story. In other words, use the inverted pyramid structure: Put the most pertinent information in the lede, second-most pertinent info in the second paragraph and lesser details in later paragraphs. Effective press releases are  written like news articles, and editors will be less likely to make major changes. As a result, they will appreciate your professionalism and the fact you’ve saved them some work.

Keep it simple
And remember, most newspapers are written at a sixth grade reading level, so write simply. An overview of simple writing tips follow:

• Craft short sentences.
• Choose simpler words over longer ones (e.g., use instead of utilize, begin instead of implement, enable instead of facilitate, etc.).
• Limit paragraphs to five sentences or less.
• Break up blocks of copy with subheads.

Closing your press release
End your press release with your organization’s boilerplate copy. This is a concise description of your organization. And make sure to include Web addresses for readers and your contact information for editors in case they have questions.

Don’t forget to proofread carefully. Nothing betrays professionalism more than a silly typo or misspelled word.

Getting it out there
After your press release is written and proofread, you’re ready to promote it. You could use a service like PRWeb to distribute it for you. Or you could research the publications in which you’d like your release printed and submit it yourself. If you go the DIY route, make sure you visit each publication’s website to make sure you follow their submission guidelines and send it to the right person. Also, if there’s a publication your organization advertises in, contact your sales rep and find out to whom to send your press release. As an advertiser, your press release might get special attention and a better chance at publication. After submission, follow up with a friendly phone call.

When an article it published based on your press release, make sure to save it! Linking to such articles on your website ensures your customers and prospects are aware of your organization’s accomplishment and helps to establish it as a leader.

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