Press Release: Do’s and Don’ts

Press Release
Press Release

The following tips will help you write a professional, concise and powerful Press Release.

The Do’s:

Start Strong: You only have a matter of seconds to grab your readers’ attention, so you want to capture it with a strong opening. Your headline, summary and first paragraph should clarify your Press Release. The rest of your release should provide the detail.

Identify Yourself: If your Press Release does not identify the source of the information within the first few paragraphs, you may lose the promotional value your Press Release can provide.

Write Professionally: If your Press Release contains hype, slang, excessive exclamation points or some other common mistakes chances are it will be viewed as an advertisement rather than a Press Release, which may hurt credibility. Or worse, a media outlet may pick up your Press Release and publish without modification, opening any sloppy writing to a larger audience.

Limit Jargon: The best way to communicate is to speak plainly using ordinary language. Using an abundance of technical language and jargon limits your reading audience.

Make sure your Information is Informational and Timely: Think about your audience. Will someone else find your story interesting? Answer the question, “Why should anyone care?” Make sure your announcement contains information that is timely, unique, highlights something new or unusual, and provides useful information to your audience. In other words, don’t make it an advertisement for your business.

Avoid Clichés: You don’t listen to clichés. Neither will your audience. Avoid phrases like “customers save money” or “great customer service” to announce or describe. Focus on the aspects of your announcement that truly set you apart from everyone else.

Pick an Angle: Make sure that your Press Release has a good hook. Tying your information to current events, recent studies, trends and social issues brings relevance, urgency and importance to your message.

Use Anchor Text and Features: Few Press  Releases can accommodate multimedia files like images, video, links and other features that will capture the attention of your readers and highlight your news. Attach logos, head shots, product shots, photographs, audio files, video files, PDF documents or any other supplemental materials that build up your Press Release. Use anchor text and hyperlinks to point readers back to your site ensures both your Website and your important keywords receive simultaneous promotion in your press release.

Illustrate the Solution: Use real life examples to illustrate how your company or organization solved a problem. Identify the problem and why your solution is the right solution. Give examples.

Don’t Be Afraid to Toot Your Own Horn: Online news or press release distribution is a successful way to create expert status. If your company has reached a milestone, celebrated an anniversary, hired a new president, experienced significant growth or received an award, tell the world what you did right. Or, write a Press Release that offers readers “tips” or help in your field of expertise.

Don’t Give Away All the Secrets: If you’re running a new promotion this season, tell readers where they can go to learn more. Provide links in your press release directly to the page on your Website where readers can learn the specifics about your news and then act upon it. If you give your readers no reason to click through to your site, they’re not necessarily going to.

Stick to the Facts: Tell the truth. Avoid fluff, embellishments, hype and exaggerations. If you feel that your press release seems sensational, there’s a good chance your readers will think so too.

Use Active Voice: Verbs in the active voice bring your press release to life. Rather than writing “entered into a partnership,” use “partnered” instead. Do not be afraid to use strong verbs. For example, “The committee exhibited severe hostility over the incident” reads better if changed to “The committee was enraged over the incident.”

Economize Your Words: Be concise. News search engines sometimes reject Press Release with overly long headlines, excessive lists and high overall word counts. Eliminate unnecessary adjectives, flowery language or redundant expressions such as “added bonus” or “first time ever.”

Proofread: Write your press release in a Word or other text document instead of writing it directly on the online submit page, so you can print it, proofread, rewrite and proofread again. The more time you take to do it right, the better your company’s impression to the world.

The Don’ts:

We have seen some of the best press releases on the Web. We’ve also seen some of the worst. Since your release is competing with hundreds, sometimes thousands, of other companies and organizations that are all vying for a reader’s attention, it’s best to make sure that your Press Release is strong and free of mistakes. Remember, you won’t get a second chance to fix a negative impression.

Here are a few things that should not be in any press release:

• All capital letters to emphasize anything.
• Grammatical errors.
• Lack of content and substance.
• Advertisements or promotional/fluffy language.
• Hype.
• The words “you”, “I” or “we” outside of a quoted statement.

Don’t forget to check spelling before you submit your Press Release.

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