Firstly, let me say straight away that I am not an expert at writing press releases. But over the years, I have read and studied many articles on how to write a press release -- most of them written by experts, complicated and full of industry jargon. I then submitted my press releases, only to see them fail to be noticed by editors. Frustrating! That's not to say that the articles I read were poor. All offered good advice, but something was always missing -- some vital ingredient to getting my releases PUBLISHED.
A SYSTEMATIC SOLUTION
So I created my own CHECKLIST -- a doable step-by-step guide that makes writing a news release a straight-forward process. And I now know what the missing ingredient is to a successful press release that gets published. It's simple, really, and obvious (read on!) I'm still not an expert when it comes to writing a press release -- you'll find links to experts at the bottom of this article -- but I am much more CONFIDENT that my press releases will get published now. And you can be confident too...
PRESS RELEASE CHECKLIST
This is the basic outline to your checklist:
STEP 1: WHAT IS YOUR STORY?
So the first step is figuring out what kind of story you want to promote. Remember that it needs to be interesting enough to catch an editor's eye -- and it needs to position your company is somehow DIFFERENT from your competitors. Try to develop several different story angles:
STEP 2: THINK LIKE A JOURNALIST
What reasons would an editor want to publish your news? What are the BENEFITS to them? Is it relevant? Is it interesting? Is it newsworthy? Make the main benefit the HEADLINE. The only purpose of your headline is to get the attention of the editor, to get him/her to read your release. Write headlines from your prospect's point of view -- use the words "you," "new," and / or "how to" in headline.
MAKE IT QUICK
Write for SCANABILITY, in short, punchy paragraphs. Your editor isn't going to have a whole lot of time to devote to your press release. Remember to answer the important questions (who? why? what? where? when? how?) in your subtext. Most importantly, make things EASY on your editor. Write the press release so it can be put into a magazine or newspaper, with just a few simple edits.
STEP 3: MECHANICS OF WRITING A PRESS RELEASE
The TITLE of your press release is vital -- some say that 90% of your time should be spent on your title. Make it bold and boastful -- hot and shocking! Your opening sentence continues what you are talking about in the headline. You want to tell your story in your headline and leading paragraph.
LOOKING AT WHAT YOU HAVE TO OFFER
Use specific, powerful (and true) testimonials and convincing case studies to support your story. Use a powerful GUARANTEE, and draw attention to it. Your press release should contain no more than five bullet points -- again, keep it short. Change passive words to active -- use the word "you" again and again. And make sure to link selling points so they connect in a logical manner. Most importantly, edit your copy ruthlessly, over and over again. For each sentence ask yourself "So what?" -- then REMOVE it if there is no good answer.
STEP 4: EXAMPLE LAYOUT OF A PRESS RELEASE
This is a simple example of what a press release should look like (more or less):
STEP 5: IS YOUR PRESS RELEASE READY?
Is your press release published on your website? Do you have printed copies of your PRESS KIT ready to send out as needed? Do you know what to do or say if a reporter calls?
THE MISSING INGREDIENT -- K-I-S-S
Phew! A lot to take in, I agree! The main trouble with doing all of the above is that your press release will be long! Yes, the vital ingredient to your press release, the one factor that will increase the chances of getting your news published is to "keep it SHORT stupid!" Not convinced? Ask yourself these questions, then:
APPENDIX: EXPERT PRESS RELEASE RESOURCES
Steve Nash is editor of a twice-monthly newsletter called Promote! Promote! Promote! Subscribe by sending a blank email to . Visit his website at myws.sitesell.com/shopping101.html.
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