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10 Press Release Best Practices That Will Skyrocket Your PR

Posted by Wendy Marx

Sep 19, 2017

10 Press Release Best Practices That Will Skyrocket Your PR

No doubt your goal is to create the best press release possible. Why? Because press releases are valuable PR tools in the hands of PR professionals -- as long as you use them correctly. Learn what press release best practices for 2017 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 for 2017 that you need to know?
  • Why are press releases still important in today’s world?
  • What goes into successful press release headlines?
  • How long should a press release be?
  • What are best press release features?
  • 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
  • Award

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But how exactly does a press release benefit your company? Consider just a few ways:

  • Increased Reach With professional distribution services, 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  Tweet: Press releases are alive, thriving, and are a vital tool that empowers companies @wendymarx http://bit.ly/2sR2YsXCLICK 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 yous press release headlines. Your headline, or press release title, 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.

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. This also helps if people later want to tweet your press release.

Extra tip: If you would like your press release to be effectively indexed by Google, fit all your essential information in the first 65 words (which is all will show up in Google search results).

Use well-known abbreviations in your press release headline to keep it short. For example, instead of ABC Corporation, you could use ABC Corp.

Make it stand out among the dozens of press release titles that journalists read on a daily basis.

Use human language -- in other words, skip the hype. Avoid stuffing your title with keywords, slang, idioms, or industry jargon. Use simple, every-day language. Search engines favor such human-sounding headlines over exaggeration or word-play.

These guidelines are just that -- guidelines. Don't be afraid to play around until you find the right format and style for your audience. For example, you may find that for your targeted audience, industry jargon brings the best results. 

Bottom Line: Don't rush the creation of your headline. Take the time to craft press release titles that will pack a punch and leave a lasting impression. It may very well be the most important part of your whole press release.

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2. Be Precise and Detailed

Focus on answering the focal 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.

Pay special attention to your grammar, spacing, and style. Small things like appropriately formated names and titles or correct punctuation and syntax could make or break your press release.

Sadly, even small mistakes can minimize the impact of your press release. Editors won't take the time to correct your mistakes -- if it doesn't meet specific press release standards, it will end up in the trash! So double and triple check all of your work before distribution.

 

Even small mistakes can minimize the impact of your press release Tweet: Even small mistakes can minimize the impact of your press release @wendymarx http://bit.ly/2sR2YsXCLICK TO TWEET

 

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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 Tweet: Personal and pertinent quotes add a human touch to your release @wendymarx http://bit.ly/2sR2YsXCLICK TO TWEET

 

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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.

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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. Break up information into 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.

Some press release distribution services (discussed in more detail below) will charge extra to add visual content. But this is well worth the price! Visuals are a major draw for journalists who are on the hunt for their next story.

Want to create eye-catching visuals? Canva, one of many free PR tools available online today, can help. Use any of their free templates or elements, choose from thousands of low-cost stock photos, and craft the perfect image for your press release.

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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

or...

Request a Demo (Supplies are Limited)

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.

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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.

You can also use valuable PR tools like MuckRack or Traackr to connect with the right journalists for your industry.

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 a few PR tools that will help you to distribute your press release to the right people:

Keep in mind, however, that effective distribution services come with a pricetag. However, there are a range of price points. We generally advice clients to decide on a price point based on their releases' importance. The more newsworthy, the more it may pay to up your spend.

Many press release distribution services also offer powerful targeting options. Give your press release the extra reach it needs to land before industry-specific journalists and bloggers, or even those in specific media types (print, blog, etc.). Do your research before you tap into these precision targeting tools to make sure you reach the right people.

Pro Tip:  Did you get a mention in The New York Times? Or a trade publication? Wherever you were mentioned, don't let that be a dead-end!  Post it to Facebook. Tweet about it on Twitter. In short, help that bit of limelight to live on, and give your credibility a helpful boost at the same time.

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An Example of a Press Release Done Right

Want to see these pree release best practices in action? Here's an example of a press release we issued for an actual client. 


Press Release Example 

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With the press release nearly as ancient as Methusalah,  it's easy -- far too easy -- to bash this relic.  

Yet, it's been estimated that some 2,000 releases are sent a day by the major wire services alone. In fact, as a B2B PR and marketing agency, we frequently send releases on behalf of our clients

What gives? 

In fact, press releases with their inverted pyramid format of the big news on top are ideal for our 140 character world.  And indeed press release headlines make excellent Twitter bait. Not to mention that the media still find them useful and that they get indexed by the search engines.

Yet so many press releases are pro forma with all the excitement of an IRS manual. 

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In thinking about how to prepare this post, I couldn't help but remember the  2006 Samuel Jackson movie, Snakes on a Plane. The name of the movie always makes me squirm because it gives away just how awful the plot line is by providing a correspondingly awful title. The title did receive a lot of press, albeit for how controversial it was.

However, when it comes to your press release, you want your headline to work across the board. Unfortunately, there is no shortage of equally distressing or controversial headlines found in press releases. 

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