How to Stand Out in a Crowd: 6 Tips for Writing an Attention-Grabbing Press Release
Press releases are tightly-written, compact articles designed to convince the media that your announcement or event is newsworthy. Although the “ideal” goal of a press release is to get an editor interested enough to do some in-depth coverage, they’re often written to be published "as is," giving an editor interesting, compelling news without having to devote scarce resources.
For decades, these pieces were the primary channel for getting the word out on important company news. Back in the day, press releases only had to be compelling enough to catch an editor’s attention and correct enough to go straight to press. Once they were done, they were done — except for old articles archived on microfiche in some newsroom. But in today’s digital communications landscape, press releases are all that — and more.
Today, press releases live a long life on both company and media websites, so it’s more important than ever for them to be engaging and relevant as well as compelling and correct: They’re designed to serve a wider audience for a longer period of time.
Here are six tips for crafting the kinds of press releases that will get your event or news noticed and cast your company in the best light for years to come:
1. Tailor your press release to your intended outlet
Editors get hundreds of press releases every week, many of them generic or cookie-cutter. The best way to make yours stand out from the crowd is by crafting your content for that particular outlet. Make sure you demonstrate that you understand the outlet, what kind of information they publish, and what their audience is interested in.
Imagine your company is opening a new, state-of-the-art distribution center, and you want to send out a press release. You’ll want to send supply-chain publications a press release tailored to talk about the planning of the facility and maybe a “tour” of its features. Send technology publications a press release that highlights the facility’s use of evolving technologies, such as the “Internet of Things.” And, if the facility is going to hire more workers, that would be a great angle for the press release you send to the local paper!
2. Use a format that makes editors happy
Once upon a time, press releases had a well-defined format that everyone followed. After all, print was print was print. Then the internet disrupted everything, and “correct” formats became more flexible.
When it comes to press releases, however, there’s a practical reason for using a standard format: Editors are more likely to publish it if they don’t have to do a lot of extra work. That means there are a few essential elements that absolutely have to be included for maximum impact. For example:
- Dateline: The dateline is the little slug right under the title that gives the date the press release was published, as well as the location. The location can be different for different audiences. Let’s say you’re a large retailer opening a new store. For the general press release, the dateline could include the city where the company is headquartered. But there could also be a version with the location of the new store targeted at local media outlets.
- “About” section: This is a short paragraph (maybe two) that relates the company’s vital statistics: size, location, sales, years in business, officers, board of directors, etc. As long as you update it regularly (when new stores open, for instance), you can use the same “about” text in every press release.
- Contact information: If an editor is on the fence about doing a piece that’s more in-depth, knowing who to call for more information could be the deciding factor. Don’t make them work for it.
Just remember — the easier you make it, the more likely it is that editors will use it.
3. Be accurate
In most cases, your press release will be published as-is. So, if it contains errors, that’s on you — not anybody else. Don’t count on the press outlet to fix incorrect information, spelling, or grammatical errors. The whole point is to encourage them to publish your press release by making things as easy as possible. So be sure to edit the text carefully before releasing it.
4. Write a stand-alone lead
A “lead” (or “lede”, as journalists know it) is the first sentence or two of an article. On its own, it should include all pertinent information. Even without the rest of the article, the lead should deliver the story all by itself. It’s the best way to grab the attention of editors and readers alike.
5. Ensure that your press release is search engine optimized
If your content is picked up by a website or news outlet, it has a good chance of getting picked up by search engines. To make sure that people will stumble across your press release when they search for relevant terms, be sure to optimize your press release. Search engine optimization (SEO) isn’t a complicated process, but it does require some effort to master. We’ve compiled a short guide to the do’s and don’ts of SEO here.
6. Always include a call to action
No matter how short or long your press release, your readers need to know what to do after they’ve finished reading — and enjoying — your press release. Your call to action should ask your readers to do something. Here are a few call to action examples:
- “Read more at [our website].”
- “Download our white paper.”
- “Follow us on [social media] to read more content like this.”
Whatever your call to action, you want to make sure it builds your relationship with the reader.
Press releases might be more complicated — and a bit more labor-intensive — than you had expected. Luckily, you don’t have to write them alone. The folks at Prose Media are experts at creating compelling professional press releases that are sure to get you noticed. To make sure your press releases hit all the right notes, sign up today to access our content platform and receive a free custom quote.