Tuesday, January 10th, 2012
Press releases still serve a very important PR and marketing purpose. Whether you distribute them online or email them to reporters and bloggers, the goal is the same—to get your news read by as many people as possible.
In order to achieve this goal, you need to write better press releases, because the sad truth is most press releases just suck. Here are 4 ways you can write better press releases.
- Find a unique angle—The average reporter is bombarded with press releases all day long. They’re probably receiving press releases from your competitors too. That means it’s crucial that you do something to make your press release stand out from the crowd. The same old, tired, straightforward press release about a bland topic no one outside of your company cares about just won’t cut it. You need to find a fresh approach to your stories to make them more relevant and more compelling.
- Don’t write to the template—Nearly every press release looks the exact same. The headlines are the same, the opening paragraphs are the same, the buzzwords are the same, and the dull, lifeless quotes are the same. If you want to distribute a press release that gets noticed, you have to steer clear of the paint-by-numbers style of press release writing.
- Know thy audience—Who is going to be reading your press release? Reporters? Buyers? Investors? Affiliates? Customers? Know your audience, and write your news in a way that appeals to their main interests.
- Edit. Edit. Edit.—Too many press releases are filled with fluff. That is, they contain irrelevant, useless information that does nothing but boost the word count. Your readers, no matter who they are, are pressed for time. They just need the main points of your story quickly and clearly. Anything that doesn’t need to be in the press release should be cut out. Get rid of the buzzwords and industry jargon while you’re at it.
What press release writing tips would you add to this list? Share them by leaving a comment below.
Wednesday, December 14th, 2011
Thanks to the SEO press release, a lot of people seem to have forgotten that press releases can actually be sent to reporters with the hope of getting media coverage for your company. For those of us who actually still send press releases to the media, it’s inevitable to run into situations where no one bites on your story. Understanding why your press releases are unsuccessful is important for helping you write better ones in the future.
Here are 4 possible reasons that a press release might not get picked up.
- The headline failed to grab attention—Journalists are bombarded with press releases on a daily basis. The dirty little secret is that most press releases don’t even get read—they end up in the trash bin (virtual or real). Why is that? It’s because a lot of journalists glance at the headline to decide whether or not to continue reading. If the headline isn’t compelling, your story probably won’t get read. You really need to focus your efforts on writing clear, powerful headlines that grab the reader’s interest and force them to check out the rest of your press release.
- It reads like an advertisement—You’re supposed to be sharing actual news, not just a thinly-veiled advertisement of your products and services. Unfortunately, the number of press releases that read like advertisements only seems to have increased thanks to shady online press release distribution websites.
- Nobody outside of your company cares about the news—Most of the stuff that companies try to pass off as news is so trivial and boring that I don’t know whether to laugh or cry at how pointless the press release is. For the most part, no one cares if you just launched a new blog, hired a new employee, or updated something minor on your website. Be honest with yourself when writing your press releases, asking “Who really cares?” If you don’t see anyone outside of your company giving a hoot about the story, best to bury it.
- You sent it to the wrong people—Just like in all other aspects of marketing, the quality of your contact list matters quite a bit. If you don’t send your press releases to the reporters who would actually be interested in covering your story, you’re just wasting your time. Build a list of highly targeted reporters, and make sure you keep it updated as reporters are constantly being shifted in their assignments.
What are some other common reasons for ineffective press releases? Share your thoughts below by leaving a comment.
Tuesday, July 5th, 2011
In most cases, press release distribution consists of sending the press release to a list of reporters and publishing it on a few directories across the web. You might be surprised to know that there are many more things you can do to get more from your press releases.
Here are just 3 easy ways to repurpose and spread your press releases even further.
- Post them on your website—If your company has regular news updates, you may want to create a dedicated news room on your website. Not only will this keep customers and prospects up to date, but it also creates a place where reporters can come to learn more about your company.
- Spin them into articles—Is article marketing as effective as it used to be? Probably not, but when used in conjunction with other online marketing strategies, I still believe it has something to offer. Most press releases can be spun into articles fairly easily, requiring only a few slight tweaks.
- Send them to your clients and prospects—Show your clients and prospects that your company is relevant and in the news by sending them your press releases via email (newsletters) and direct mail. As John Jantsch notes in Duct Tape Marketing, “With the blur of information coming to us everyday, people can no longer keep track of what they saw where. Over time, your press releases will become media coverage to your readers.”
Do you still use press releases to get attention for your company? What are some of your best press release tactics?
Tuesday, October 26th, 2010
If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you know that I’m a big believer in regular press release distribution. Sure, there are the SEO benefits of publishing press releases online, but I’m more enticed by the media coverage a good press release can get you. If you have a solid story and you send out your press release to a targeted list of reporters, you could have a lot of these reporters calling you up for an interview.
Of course, it’s not enough to have a good story, you also have to write the press release in a way that captures the attention of the reader and leaves them asking for more. That’s often where knowing the right press release length becomes important.
Let me explain. The purpose of a press release (if you’re trying to get media coverage) is to get reporters excited and asking for more information. It’s a teaser. A pitch. You want to give them the basic idea of your story, but you don’t want to cram the press release with every single detail relating to the story and your company. In most cases, less is more.
This is the case for a couple of reasons.
Tuesday, October 5th, 2010
Contrary to what the naysayers believe, press release distribution is still an effective way to get your name out there, build links back to your website, and increase your search engine presence. But of course, there’s a right way and a wrong way to write press releases. Most of them are written the wrong way. Just check out any news wire online and you’ll see what I mean.
The good news is writing better press releases is actually pretty easy. I’ve broken it down into 7 simple rules. Follow these and you’ll be golden.
- Write a clear, compelling headline that hooks readers—Reporters and customers alike will decide whether or not to read your press release based on its headline. The headline needs to clearly explain what the story is about in a way that sparks the reader’s interest.
- Get to the point—Your first paragraph should immediately answer the who, what, when, where, why, and how questions. Start with this overview of the story, and then delve into the tiny details as you build out the rest of the press release. Don’t bury the lead!
- Make sure all links are relevant—Yes, press release distribution is good for building links back to your website. However, that shouldn’t be your sole purpose for writing them, and you shouldn’t cram the press releases with links just for the sake of doing so. Links should, of course, be keyword-rich, but they should also be relevant and add to the story.
- Break free from the traditional press release template—9 out of every 10 press releases begins with the same old “XYZ Company, a leader in (insert industry), is proud to announce (insert news). This is then followed by a bunch of superlatives and buzzwords as well as a few lifeless quotes from executives. Zzzzzzzzzzzz… Feel free to mix things up by injecting life into your story.
- Ditch the buzzwords—Speaking of buzzwords and industry jargon, they have no place in your press releases. Write in a way that a regular person (reporter or customer) can understand it.
- Make your quotes count—Too many times, the quotes in press releases are just there. They add nothing to the story, and they’re used to repeat what’s already been said or to inject some bias (superlatives usually follow). Don’t you think you should get more from your quotes? Dig deeper to find quotes that add to the story and bring the news into context.
- Always include contact info—Every press release should have contact info for your company’s PR contact. This should include company name, web address, PR contact name, phone number, email, and address.
Are there any other rules people need to follow when writing press releases? Let us know by leaving a comment!