How to write a great press release
The skill of free publicity
When you run a small business (or frankly any business), free publicity isn’t something you want to turn down. So, being able to craft a great press release is a skill worth mastering.
What makes a great press release, how can you increase your chance of getting it published and why does it matter?
What makes a great press release?
There are a number of factors to consider if you want a great press release.
- Is it newsworthy?
- Is there a killer headline?
- Put the most important bit first.
- Be concise.
- Quotes aren’t for information.
Is it newsworthy?
Time is of the essence in today’s hectic world, so people are pretty choosy about what they’re going to spend their time reading. Although something might seem like the most important thing ever to you, you need to think about your reader.
Before you write a press release, ask yourself:
- Am I telling people something new?
- Is there anything unusual or unexpected about my story?
- Is this of interest to people outside of my business?
- Will anyone really care?
It might sound a little harsh but if you’re spending your time writing a press release, you want to know if it’s worth it. Perhaps there’s a better way to get your news across?
Nail that headline!
The real value of a good headline can never be underestimated.
It’s an art to be able to summarise your story while drawing people in to read it. You need to leave people wanting more and show that you can solve your reader’s problem.
Once you’ve created a great headline don’t just use it as the subject field of your email to the journalist though.
They get hundreds of emails, so be clear that it’s a press release from the outset.
Don’t forget to style your writing for your particular audience either. A publication for knitting patterns is going to have a different vibe to one focused on investing (most probably).
Put the most important line at the top
Hopefully the intended party will open your email (or letter) and read the opening line. If this doesn’t grab them, the chances are they’ll lose interest and delete it.
It should be between 15 and 20 words and should be a summary of your whole story.
So, for example, if you want to announce that you’re opening a new coffee bar because it’s larger than your previous one and means you can now serve cooked food as well, it should say that straight out. Don’t be tempted to start with how you got into the business and why you didn’t do well at school!
Another trick is to imagine that your story is going to be read out on the news. At the start of the programme, they give a few teasers of what’s going to be covered on the programme. What would you want them to say in those 5 seconds?
Plan for your press release to be about 300 – 400 words long. If it’s more than that, then perhaps you’ve been tempted to waffle? Remember, background information about you or your business doesn’t need to go in the opening paragraph. This – along with any other additional information – can be included in a ‘notes to the editors’ section at the end (an addition to the 400 words).
Make sure it’s written in the third person and factually accurate. Check and double check your spelling, grammar and punctuation so that it looks professional.
Quotes are for opinions
It’s a good idea to include one or two quotes in your press release; their purpose is to add a matter of opinion and human feeling.
They shouldn’t be used to add more information. Quotes also need to be clear of technical jargon. Remember to think of your audience.
And another thing (or six..)
To maximise your chances of getting press coverage, make sure you consider the audience of the publication or newspaper you’re targeting. You may have to tweak your idea and your release slightly.
If a journalist is busy, they may not open an attachment, so paste your press release directly into the email. And if you’re attaching photos, make sure the file size isn’t too big. You have to think about people’s inboxes after all.
Add your businesses logo to the top of the page and if the press release is linked to a product launch, provide the date that the product is being launched.
If you’re writing an article which is seasonal, you’ll need to think well ahead. Many publications will plan up to a few months ahead for content, so get in early.
How can a press releases help your business?
If you’ve followed the tips above you have a good chance of getting some coverage for your business. But how will a press release actually benefit your business?
Well, here are a few ways:
Finding potential customers
Your press release could be read by hundreds or thousands of people and it won’t have cost you a penny. You could gain new fans, followers and customers from the exposure. Perhaps you’ll gain a new audience who otherwise wouldn’t have heard of you?
News articles are often seen as more trustworthy sources of information, compared to other marketing channels. An email or flyer is written by you and an advert has probably been paid for. People can be put off if it comes across as a sales pitch. However, the magazine or local news article can be a better approach. You can then use the coverage across your other marketing channels afterwards.
Being seen as a bit of an expert
You could position yourself as the expert or a leader in the industry. Perhaps publications or newspapers will use you again for information about your industry. Look at this as free additional publicity for you and your business.
Boosting team morale
Hopefully, your team are proud to work for you. If they are, it can be a great thing for them to see the place they work up in lights. They’ll probably show it to their friends and family (more potential customers) just because everyone loves a bit of fame.
We love to find out about businesses and the people behind them. We can help to manage your finances so your business is well placed to be in the limelight. And if we think there is a way to promote your business which you haven’t thought of, we’ll let you know.
About Jon Pryse-Jones
Since joining THP in 1978, Jon Pryse-Jones has been hands on with every area of the business. Now specialising in strategy, business planning, and marketing, Jon remains at the forefront of the growth and development at THP.
An ideas man, Jon enjoys getting the most out of all situations, “I act as a catalyst for creative people and encourage them to think outside the box,” he says, “and I’m not afraid of being confrontational. It often leads to a better result for THP and its clients.”
Jon’s appreciation for THP extends to his fellow team members and the board. “They really know how to run a successful business,” he says. He’s keen on IT and systems development as critical to success, and he continues to guide THP to be at the cutting edge and effective.