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9 Ways to Craft a Kick-Ass Press Release

Posted by Wendy Marx


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Writing press releases doesn't have to be difficult. Releases have been used as part of effective PR strategies by businesses for decades to announce every occasion from the creation of a new product to the company's latest philanthropic endeavor. 

While radio, television, and newsprint have been the go-to outlets in times past, a new form of news release has emerged with greater efficacy than ever: the digital release. These are often shared by news distribution services such as PRWeb. A well-crafted release will be picked up by media outlets and will pique the interest of readers, causing them to click on that oh-so-important CTA, or call-to-action.

A not-so-well-crafted release, however, will be relegated to that figurative room in the basement of the internet -- you know the one...with the creaky pipes and flickering lights. That's not where you want your release to end up. What B2B PR tactics should you use to create the perfect release?

A well-crafted release will be picked up by media outlets and will pique the interest of readers Tweet: A well-crafted release will be picked up by media outlets and will pique the interest of readers @wendymarx http://bit.ly/2iLQRxoCLICK TO TWEET

Let's look at how you can create the best press release strategy. We'll also answer such questions as how long should a press release be, what components are essential to your release, and how to best distribute it?

9 Steps to Create the Best Press Releases Every Time

1. Grab 'Em with the Headline

Media and bloggers are flooded with headlines every day. Make sure yours is a cut above the rest by creating one that is captivating. Headlines are also crucial for boosting click-through rates on search engines and in social media. 

The perfect news release headline is around 100 characters or less. This allows people to easily scan it -- plus it has the added benefit of being the perfect length for social media!

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2. Get to the Point

In other words, avoid industry jargon. Your release should be so simple and straight forward that anyone could pick it up and easily understand your news.

Forget long windups, run-on sentences and industry jargon. Get to the point within the first paragraph. And try to keep your release to one page. 

 

Your release should be so simple and straight forward that anyone could easily understand your news Tweet: Your release should be so simple and straight forward that anyone could easily understand your news @wendymarx http://bit.ly/2iLQRxoCLICK TO TWEET

 

3. Tell 'Em Why They Should Care

It's not that you or your company is amazing (even though both may be true). The most important thing for you to highlight is what's in it for your target audience. How will someone benefit? 

Research your audience ahead of time so that you can know and understand who you're addressing before you even prepare your release. For example, your target audience may be middle-aged men in the C-suite of the financial sector. Craft your release to address the concerns that come up in the course of their day-to-day business.

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4. Include At Least One Quote

Branding yourself as a thought leader is a crucial part of all B2B marketing strategies. To do this effectively, make sure your release includes at least one quote.

A quote also helps your release to appeal to your audience on a human level. Make sure the quote gives some context for the release, perhaps explaining the impact your announcement has on your industry.

5. Make it impeccable

Nothing shoots down a press release faster than spelling and grammatical errors. Such errors can spoil an otherwise perfect release, and you could even lose credibility because of it.

To that end, proofread your release several times -- hand it off to at least one other person to do the same. The human brain is an amazing machine. You may comprehend where a comma needs to be placed, or if there is a random "and", "a", or "it" missing, but your brain will automatically fill in the hole - especially if you are the writer. 

Also, remember that release distribution services and news outlets are particularly stringent on grammar rules. They won't correct it for you -- if it contains any mistakes, it my get tossed into the reject pile. To be on the safe side, consult an AP style guide or even hire an editor who is versed with the current rulebook. 

6. Direct the Reader

An important goal of any release is to engage readers and motivate them to act. Clarify what they should do by including a CTA. Clearly direct their attention to your CTA while using motivating and positive language. 

For example, such language as Download Your Free Demo or Schedule Some Face Time with Our CEO will build anticipation for the reader and lead them to the next step.

  

<<Click Here to Download Your FREE Press Release Template>> 

 

7. Optimize for Search Engines

Search engine optimization is an integral part of crafting the perfect release -- and it is a practice that is gaining traction year after year! Choose a long-tail keyword that is appropriate for both your industry and region.

For instance, if you are a regional company, choose a keyword that reflects your demographic's location. Instead of simply using "financial services software," you might alter it to "San Francisco financial services software."

To optimize your release effectively, include a keyword in the headline, first pargraph as well as the body of the release. A rule of thumb: Your keyword density should be between 1% and 4% of your copy.

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8. Engage with Visuals

We live in an increasingly visual world, where the human brain processes visuals 60,000 times faster than text! And news releases are no exception. Graphics, bullets, graphs, charts, illustrations, video will all help you to engage more people in your story.

Plus, releases with images receive 1.4 times more views than text-only releases -- a figure that bumps up to 2.8 times more views when you include a video! Well worth the investment of visual graphic creation.

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9. Add Social Sharing Links

Make it easy for readers to share your release. Convert their audience into your audience by including sharing buttons or links at the bottom of your release.

Along the same lines, consider using distribution services that specialize in distributing your release on social media. Services like Pitch Engine make it easy and effective to distribute your release to social media, while monitoring your results with its analytics dashboard.

Click Here to Get the Number One Process to Go from Anonymity to Industry Icon

 

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Ready to Have Some Fun?

We're going to point fingers here for just a moment so you can see live examples of good and bad releases. We've blacked out any names to avoid embarrassment. First, the bad:

bad_release2

Hmmm... what's wrong with this release? It's not hard to spot the flaws, is it? If you read the first sentence out loud you probably had to stop to take a breath, or else be resuscitated. Notice the continuous use of poor grammar, the jargon-laden second paragraph, and not to mention the fact that we have no idea why this certification matters in the the first place... we could go on, but you get the point.

And now drumroll, please... Here is an example of a release that works:

bitcoin

 bitcoin2

Paybits did a lot of things right here. For instance...

  • The headline is succinct and compelling.
  • You want to learn more.
  • The subhead adds engaging detail.
  • The founder is quoted in the article.
  • Paybit's logo is prominently displayed for brand recognition
  • Plenty of share buttons are included.
  • The second paragraph sets the stage and says why people should care about the announcement.
  • The SlideShare at the bottom of the release provides further information.
  • It includes a CTA.

This is a model example of a release that gets attention and results. And now you know the secret as well!

Key Points to Remember...

  • Craft a release headline that is short and sweet, and captivates your audience
  • Avoid jargon that may confuse your readers. Instead, use simple, straightforward language
  • Use quotes to draw the attention of your audience and give your release a more human feel
  • Make sure your release is impeccable -- double and triple check for errors

Clearly, releases do not have to be antiquated or dull. They become crucial to your PR strategy when crafted to meet your goals. 

Have you reaped the rewards of a well-done release? Share your secrets with us in the comments below. 

If you want to beef up your knowledge of how to write a great news release, check out our FREE guide, How to Create Releases That Don't Suck.

Inside, you'll learn more secrets about how to create a properly composed news release -- plus, how you can use it to drive traffic.

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Dec 23, 2015
 
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Wendy Marx

Wendy Marx is the founder and president of Marx Communications, a boutique inbound marketing and public relations agency. An award-winning B2B public relations pro, she has helped many small- & medium-sized firms (SMBs) become well-known industry brands and transform their businesses, going from Anonymity to Industry Icon™.

Her business articles have appeared in The New York Times, InformationWeek, Inc., Advertising Age, & Fast Company, among other outlets. 

View all posts by Wendy Marx