When writing a press release, you need to take into consideration all the dos and don’ts. If you ignore the unwritten rules, you can easily sabotage your news story. Your writing style – or lack of it – may have managing editors block your emails or not take your calls.
There are three key things to making sure your press release is used by the media. They are timeliness, news-worthiness, and relevance. And, submitting first-class copy will gain you a solid reputation.
Let’s dive right into tips that will make your press release stand out and be read by journalists and the public.
Thumbs Up – Dos
1 Keep your news release brief. It should be 500-700 words.
2 If making an announcement, make sure to indicate a timeframe. Something occurred or happened or will happen on such and such date. Or, if you don’t have a specific date, you may say, “XYZ solar system was recently installed . . .”
3 Use initial caps and lowercase for your headline.
4 Proofread for grammatical errors.
5 Check all your hyperlinks to words and keyword strings. Make sure the link used sends people to the most appropriate page on your website, not just the home page.
6 Test the website and email contact links.
7 If you are including images, check the size of the file(s), and keep it under 1MB, 400 x 400 pixels for news image size.
8 Write your news story in the third-person voice.
9 Supply one or two quotes from a spokesperson of the company or another involved in the news story.
10 Be sure the media contact you use is available to take calls, respond to emails, and answer media questions.
Thumbs Down – Don’ts
1 Don’t do keyword stuffing. SEO is a nice channel for driving readers to your website, but there’s a balance when optimizing your release. Use keyword / keyword string in headline, summary, and first paragraph. The rule of thumb is hyperlink one keyword(s) per 100-150 words.
2 Don’t write wordy a headline. Short and sweet is your friend, so use 8 to 10 words.
3 Don’t overload on industry jargon and buzzwords. Keep your copy reader friendly; clear and simple is the key.
4 Don’t overuse adverbs and adjectives. Ditch them. Both types of words create a promotional push to your news. Save them for your ads, brochures, social media, etc.
5 Don’t miss the mark by providing insufficient information. Make sure you cover the 5W’s of Who, What, Where, Why, When as well as How.
6 Don’t use ALL CAPS. There’s never a place for all caps in a press release. All caps are only acceptable if in a formal trademarked name of company or product or a recognized acronym.
7 Don’t use exclamation marks! Copy with wild claims and !!! will end up in a journalist’s spam folder.
8 Don’t use passive or past tense verbs. Use active voice verbs rather than past tense.
9 Don’t leave out a standard company boilerplate. Always include a statement about your organization. Three to eight sentences work well. Include your website for more information.
10 Don’t submit incorrect contact information. Check and double check name, phone number, and email. T here’s nothing worse than a phone number that goes into the general company phone tree or extension system. An editor does not have time to go through the system. Contacts need to be prepared to use their direct cell phone line.
Keep this list handy to check off all the ‘dos and don’ts’ points when you do your final press release proof. You’ll be glad you did!
As I get ready to buzz off, did you know that flowers have bright markings and strong smells to attract bees and other insects, so that they will pollinate flowers? Some also have dark lines called “honey guides” which scientists believe help insects find their way into the flowers.
Be sure to wing your way back to this hive each month to learn the fundamentals and “how to’s” of creating your own public relations department. Let’s get YOUR buzz on!
Susan Almon-Pesch is the founder of Market 4 Profit, and her full service ad agency was named Small Business of the Year and ranked in the Top 25 agencies in Western New York. In 1988 Susan was elected the first woman president in the 70-year history of the 250 member Buffalo / Niagara Sales and Marketing Executives, and she was the first woman inducted into its Hall of Fame in 1992. Contact – Website – Facebook – LinkedIn – Twitter
Photo Credit – kaboompics