Press releases are a valuable tool in the hands of PR professionals -- as long as you use them correctly. Learn what press release best practices can make your news and announcements more effective in today’s busy world.
While there are those that believe emphatically that the press release is dead, we are here to tell you that that is an urban myth. Press releases are alive, thriving, a vital tool that continues to empower companies in many ways.
In this article, we will answer the following questions:
- What are the press release best practices to know and use in 2017?
- Why are press releases still important in today’s world?
- What makes a successful press release headline?
- How long should a press release be?
- What is a good example of a press release that will improve your PR?
Why Press Releases Still Matter in Today’s Social World
Would you like to stand out as a company, and build relationships with journalists that you can use for years to come? Press releases may be just the ticket you’re looking for.
A press release is a vital component of any public relations strategy. Here is just a sampling of circumstances where a press release can amplify your message:
- New product launches
- Updates to existing products
- New partnership
- New office opening
- New team member/big-name hire
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But how exactly does a press release benefit your company? Consider just a few ways:
- Increased Reach With professional distribution websites, you’ll have access to more journalists, bloggers, prospects and influencers than you could reach on your own.
- Improved SEO With well-chosen keywords and SEO practices, your press release can build strong traffic to your website.
- Improve Public Perception Press releases can shape your brand image, and deliver consistent and factual messages that offset any negative publicity.
These kinds of results would boost any company's strategy. So let’s get down to how you can create a powerful press release that gets you all these benefits, and more.
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Press releases are alive, thriving, and are a vital tool that empowers companies CLICK TO TWEET
10 Press Release Best Practices That You Can Take to the Bank
1. Make Your Headline Pop
Irresistible, captivating, engaging...these are just some of the words that should describe you press release headline. Your headline sets the tone for what to expect. These few words can make the difference between an open or a pass. Make your headline count with following pointers.
Use action words that capture the reader’s attention, and empower your message.
Write in everyday, uncomplicated language that is easily understood. Your headline is no place for industry jargon.
Keep it short and sweet to please the search engine powers that be, as well as prospective readers. The optimal length for a press release headline should be 100 characters or fewer.
Make it stand out among the dozens of press release headlines that journalists read on a daily basis.
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2. Get to the Point Quickly
Focus on answering the question, “Why should I care?” This is, after all, the question that all reporters, bloggers, and influencers ask when they read a press release. Why would their audience want to read about your news?
Cover all the essential information in the first paragraph. Answer all the who, what, when, where, why, and how questions as soon as possible. Give the straight-up facts so journalists can quickly understand the story and aren't left deciphering what it's about. Don't forget that prospects will also reach your release so be sure to make it acessible.
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3. Create a Killer Quote
Personal and pertinent quotes add a human touch to your release. It makes a reader feel like this is not just another commercial company looking for the limelight. A quote gives the message that your news affects real people, and others will want to hear about it.
Choose an authority within the company, or someone whom the press release directly affects. This could be an executive, a project leader, or a stakeholder. The more important the individual, the more weight the quote will have to reporters and their readers.
Personal and pertinent quotes add a human touch to your release CLICK TO TWEET
4. Don’t Leave Any Loose Ends
Once a journalist opens the press release, you don’t want to lose him or her with a lack of relevant details. A reporter should never have to ask “What does this company do?” If he or she is confused, the journalist will most likely move on to the next press release in their inbox.
Explain about your company, and include a link to your company’s home page. Include titles of the people you cite, whether it's a CEO, CFO, or another title that isn't an alphabet soup combination. If you use statistics or data, link to the appropriate source material.
5. Don’t Make Your Press Release Too Long
Don’t overwhelm your reader with too much information. So, exactly how long should a press release be? The sweet spot is right between 300 and 500 words. Any more, and you’d be wasting space. This isn’t an essay or novella, and should be as short and sweet as possible, while relaying all relevant details.
Use whitespace as much as possible -- long paragraphs look and feel overwhelming to readers. Use bulleted lists to make the information easy to digest.
View your press release more like bait -- if you want the fish to bite, it should not be too big to swallow.
6. Use Visual Content
The human brain processes images 60,000 times faster than it does text. Use that to your advantage in your press release. Visuals capture a reader’s attention, and allow people to more easily digest information.
Tell your story as visually as possible. Include infographics with key statistics and data, photos of your product, or a video demonstration. This adds value to your press release, and could make the difference in a journalist choosing to cover your story over another.
7. Make the Last Paragraph Count
By the end of your press release, you have likely provided all the essential information. Don’t overload the final paragraph with nonessential or redundant details.
Instead, add some details. This might be the prime place to explain some of the creative background of the project or announcement. You might also describe any future significance this could have for the industry.
Make it interesting, but keep it brief. End on a high note.
8. Include a Clear Call-to-Action
Don’t let your press release just hang in the air. Wrap it up with a clear call-to-action that guides the journalist or blogger to take the next step.
Don’t overdo it. Only use one CTA per press release. For instance, if your press release is about a product launch, you could use:
Sign up now to receive news about product updates
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Your CTA needs an action word (i.e., sign up or view) that prompts the reader to take the next desired step. Use language that creates urgency, such as Today or Limited Supply. Decide what action you want your readers to take, and craft a CTA that will nudge them in that direction.
9. Reach Out to Specific Journalists
Resist the urge to send your press release to every journalist whose contact information you can find. Instead, approach your distribution methodically. Once you decide what publications you want to reach out to, do your research to find who is relevant to your industry.
Find out which bloggers and journalists your audience follows and reads. Read their past articles. Get to know them through their profiles. When you reach out, add a personal touch that sets you apart from the mountain of other press releases they receive.
10. Use Online Distribution Services to Give You a Leg Up
Press release distribution services can go a long way in getting the right eyes on your announcement. Here are few distribution services you might consider:
Tip: Don’t schedule your press release to be published on the hour (such as exactly at 1 pm or 3 pm). Because so many people publish at those times, your press release could be drowned out in a sea of other releases.
An Example of a Press Release Done Right
Want to see these best practices in action? Here's an example of a press release we issued for an actual client.
A Few Points to Remember…
- Keep your headline short (less than 100 words), with action verbs that motivate your reader to open and read your press release.
- Get to the point quickly within your first paragraph, and answer all those W questions.
- The ideal press release length is between 300-500 words.
- Reach out only to those journalists and bloggers who are relevant to your industry.
Press releases are alive and well in 2017 -- and when used correctly, can be a huge boon to your business. Make the most of each press release by applying these press release best practices.
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