I have been reminiscing my college years a lot recently (check out my article on typography) so I thought I would continue with the theme (you can always skip down to the first header if you don’t want to take this trip with me :) ). My favorite professor was an experienced marketer (27 years in the field) turned educator (20 years and counting at the university level) that had an incredibly interactive teaching style. There were several questions that, when asked, the class had a resounding answer (repetition builds conviction). For example, when he said “strategy” we said “long term plan”. When he asked what the best types of advertising were, we all proclaimed word of mouth and PR!
Word of mouth has the most credibility – if a friend recommends something you’re likely to try it. PR is great because it reaches the consumers through a third-party (newspaper, magazine, etc.) therefore increasing both the credibility of your message and the potential reach. There are several different channels of public relations but for today we are going to focus on press releases.
What Information Should I Include In The Press Release
Six W’s As you outline what you want to include in your press release, be sure to include answers to the six W’s: who, what, where, why, how, and when. You don’t necessarily have to elaborate on each one, but be sure to touch on them. If the media wants to pick up the story they will ask for more details.
Quotes Quotes are great additions to a press release because they give a name and a personal testimony to the topic. This provides credibility and more interest on behalf of the media and their audience. The best quotes are those from prominent figures outside of your organization (CEO’s, VPs, celebrities, politicians, etc.). No matter whom you quote be sure to include their name, title, and the organization in which they are associated.
Multimedia If you have any pictures or multimedia that will increase the appeal of the article make sure to include them.
How Should I Structure The Press Release?
Headline The headline is arguably the most important aspect of the release so spend time on developing it. It should be clear and concise in stating the main point of the release in order to catch the attention of the media.
Body You have a few critical seconds in which to capture the attention of the media. If you aren’t able to capture their attention your news won’t be shared. The first attention grabbing aspect is the headline; the second is the structure of the body. Your first sentence or two should be the bulk of your news release – explain the big picture of what is going on. As you proceed to the next paragraphs begin elaborating on the details and inserting insight from those involved (quotes).
Short and to the Point You don’t need to give every detail of what is happening. If the media is interested in broadcasting the story they will contact you for more details.
Company Bio In the last paragraph you will briefly outline your company. Remember to state facts and avoid opinion words – rather than saying “We are the best company in such and such industry” state something like, “Company, an industry leader, is…” or “Company, serving the such and such industry, is…”
Contact Information Include the name and contact information of the department or person you want the media to contact.
End of Press Release Signify the end of the release with three # symbols.
Direct: Keep in mind as you are pitching this to the media that the more newsworthy the topic is the more likely it is to be picked up. Reporters are not looking for opportunities to promote a company they know little or nothing about. They want to share the news they think their readers will be interested in. Keep your press release unbiased, direct, and without fluff. It is not a sales pitch, it is a news release.
Third Person Write as if you are an outside party reporting the news for your company – for example, “Company XYZ has recently released product A to meet such and such need. After initial research they determined…”
Avoid Complex Industry Jargon Think newspaper and not short story or scholarly journal – choose familiar words to reach and engage a larger audience.
Distributing Your Press Release
Now that we are done with the writing, it’s time to distribute your masterpiece! To get you started, here is a list of 60 press release websites (in alphabetical order) that provide both free and paid online distribution services.
Do you have a site to add into the list? Tell us via the comment form below!