12 Tips on Making Your Press Releases Stand Out
Published August 4, 2010
Are you about to write and distribute your first news release? Or, are you a seasoned pro who has noticed a steady decline of viewership and pickup from the releases you’ve sent out in the past? Whether you’re new to the process or just need new ideas, learn how to make your press release stand out from all the rest with these 12 easy steps that will maximize your content for greater visibility:
Consider newsworthiness and “what’s in it for them.”
Before putting fingertips to keyboard, ask yourself if the topic of your press release is newsworthy. Will your audience be interested in the news you have to share? How are you positioning your news so that journalists and bloggers are more likely to read your release? Why should they care about what you have to say? In the end, all the reader will care about is how your information will affect them, so make sure that you spell out the benefits up front.
Write a catchy headline.
There’s nothing better than an interesting headline to attract to your release. But avoid using slang or any tongue-in-cheek wording, if possible. You never know when trends will shift and those once-clever phrases no longer make any sense. Also, be concise and factual. A lengthy and fluffy headline is a big turn-off. The optimal number of characters is between 65 to 100, but the fewer the better so your reader doesn’t lose interest. Headlines also affect SEO and social media. Use a combination of keywords that will earn you some SEO points and will drive sharability in the social media space.
Write a compelling lead-in paragraph.
This paragraph sets the tone for the rest of the release and attracts the attention of the reader. Ideally, it should provide the gist of what the release is about, particularly within the first two sentences.
Quotes from company representatives, typically upper-level management or designated spokespeople, are a great way for your audience to get a more personal sense of the topic at hand. Although reporters typically like to conduct interviews, quotes in press releases are a good fall-back when they’re in a crunch or on deadline.
Avoid the cookie cutter approach
. If you have a template for writing a press release, change it up. Many sources will say that the first paragraph should include the five Ws (who, what, why, when, how), which is true. But try a different approach and see if it works for the nature of your press release. Is your press release on the light-hearted side of things? If so, you might have more leeway with these types of releases than with serious news issues or corporate/finance-focused topics.
Avoid industry jargon.
You want to grab the attention of bloggers in your industry. But you also want the media, who may not be familiar with your specific industry-speak, to understand what you’re talking about. Keep your press release clear of any exaggerations, blatant pitches, colloquialisms or jargon to ensure that your release is easy to comprehend by a wide audience.
. Overuse of words like “robust,” “world class” and “cutting edge” — all gobbledygook — do not add to the crux of your press release. Because they’re used so often, their meaning and connotation have little to no value. Read David Meerman Scott’s article about
gobbledygook words in press releases
— something every marketing writer and communicator should read.
Keep your press release relevant.
One way to keep your release relevant is sending
targeted news releases
based on industry, geography or niche markets. By honing in on a specific group or area, your press release will likely reach those who will be interested in it. Another way to ensure relevancy is to insert hyperlinks where it makes sense. Ideally, links should direct readers to deep content within your website — content they may not find by doing a quick skim-through. Even external links, when chosen carefully, can add to the validity of your release (just like the David Meerman Scott mention in #7). Reliable and authoritative third-party links can often lend more credibility to your release because they present an objective perspective that readers are more likely to buy into.
press release with SEO
. Sending a press release will help boost your company’s SEO efforts if the right keywords and links are inserted. Anchor text, which is the visible yet clickable wording in hyperlinks, also provide readers access to your company website by simply clicking on the relevant keywords used in the press release.
Benefit from XHTML formatting
. Through XHTML (extensible hypertext mark-up language), you can format visual elements — like boldface and bullets — that can make your news release more attractive to your readers. By bolding, italicizing or bulleting keywords and making them stand out, readers can scan content and quickly pick up key points. XHTML also allows search engines to find your release more easily.
Enhance your release with multimedia
Adding multimedia elements, like videos and images, will make your release more aesthetically pleasing, and, more importantly, will also make it more sharable. Bloggers, journalists and consumers are able to find relevant images and videos (via YouTube) because multimedia elements also help boost SEO. (Read “
How to Optimize Video for SEO
.”) And, to put it simply, people are just attracted to pretty pictures! Graphics are also considered multimedia — at the very least, include your company’s logo as a visual draw.
Socialize your news release.
When writing your press release, keep in mind that every piece of news is being shared via social networks: Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and others. With that in mind, take your traditional press release to the next level by incorporating social media elements for maximum exposure, distribution and pick-up.
Are you a seasoned PR pro with dozens of press releases under your belt and have additional tips to share? Or, are you a PR newbie who has just distributed your first press release, but learned a few lessons the hard way? Please share your creative ideas!
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