6 Keys to Uncovering the Mystery of a Press Release

Image courtesy of Niuton may's photostream

Image courtesy of Niuton may’s photostream

If you’re tired of reading glowing articles about your competitors in the news, it might be time to try your hand at writing a press release to get your own good news in the media. Press releases are one of the most powerful tools in public relations. Getting the right message, in front of the right reporter on the right day can result in invaluable press coverage.

For most people, there is a mystery surrounding how to write an effective press release. While there is no magic formula for all announcements, here are some helpful tips to help you write a release that will get your business in the headlines:

1.    Make it timely. News is fleeting, so make sure your announcement isn’t old news before it even reaches the reporter. If you are previewing an event, make sure to send it well in advance to give the news team time to plan to cover it. If you know you have a big announcement coming up, prep your release ahead of time and fill in the details as needed. If your announcement isn’t time sensitive, try tying a current event into your message to give it a timelier feel.

2.    Think about your audience while you’re writing. What really matters to them? How does your news make their lives easier or solve their problems? If you are talking to the general public, don’t use industry-specific jargon. Also consider the tone of the publication you are targeting. It helps if your writing styles are in-line.

3.    Be concise and compelling. Clearly explaining the “who, what, when, where and why” in the opening paragraph is important. You only have a few seconds to convince the reporter your news is worth sharing. An attention grabbing headline and engaging quotes can make all the difference.

4.    Proof, proof, proof! Press releases are expected to be as perfect as a resume. If a release is well written and error-free, it might just be published word for word. That is great for you and the reporter! No matter how many times you’ve read the release, have someone else take another look.

5.    Follow the format. All releases should include: your contact info so the reporter can follow up with you for more information, a headline, your city, the date the announcement can be made public and an intriguing opening statement. End your release with your company’s boilerplate, which is a brief and general description of your company. Don’t send attachments with your initial release because many reporters have strict SPAM blockers. Include any accompanying images in the body of the email or mention to the reporter you have photos you can provide at their request.

6.    Send it to the right person. Start by reading the publication you want your article to appear in. Identify a reporter who has covered similar topics as your announcement. Bonus points if you can reference a previous article they’ve written when you reach out to them with your press release.

Don’t be discouraged if your press release doesn’t get the coverage you expect right away. Follow up with the reporter. Maybe you sent it to the wrong contact. Try a different angle. Try a different publication. There is still hope for your news! You don’t have to receive media coverage to gain some leverage from your release. Once you have crafted your release, let social media give it legs. You can use free distribution sites like www.PRLog.com to publish releases online. Then post, share and tweet your message out to get in front of your clients and prospects.

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