A press release can be a powerful promotional tool – letting your local newspaper or business magazine know about what’s happening can yield column inches devoted entirely to you, which is invaluable publicity. You can also distribute through free online press release sites such as PRFire and Pressbox.
What is best is that it doesn’t have to cost you a penny. You can obviously go to a copywriter or specialist press release writer to write a press release, but there is no reason you shouldn’t give it a go yourself.
However, there are some dos and don’ts you need to follow when putting together your own release. Here are my four golden rules for press release perfection:
1. Write about something worthwhile
Make sure your press release has something definite to report. Journalists are constantly looking for news, so it doesn’t have to be anything earth shattering to make the grade. Starting a new business, launching a product, publicising a charity fundraising drive or moving into new premises are all worthy topics for a press release.
What a press release can’t be is simply a description of you or your business – it has to be something newsworthy.
2. Take time with your title
The first thing the reader looks at in a press release is the title, so your title must do two things and do them well – it must tell the reader what the release concerns and it also has to make them want to read on.
Try coming up with a few titles and reading them aloud to yourself. Put yourself in the shoes of the reader – do these titles make you want to read on? If the answer is no then it has to be back to the drawing board until you come up with something that does.
Remember that the title doesn’t have to be the first thing you write – if you’re struggling to think of something, try leaving it until the end.
3. Reel in the reader
A press release obviously needs to inform but this has to be done in a manner that engages and entertains – otherwise nobody is going to read it, or at least they are unlikely to make it past the first paragraph.
Make sure your writing is easy to read – keep sentences short and break it up into manageable paragraphs. Quotes are also a good way to keep things interesting. If you are publicising a new member of staff, for example, include a quote that explains why they are excited about the prospect of working for your company.
4. Keep it short and sweet
A good press release needs to tell its story in a clear and concise fashion. Never be tempted to write thousands of words of copy – it won’t be read and will put many people off even starting to read. Keep your press release to around 500 words – enough to tell a story without getting too in depth. If a journalist wants to know more, they will contact you.
This blog is by Martin Sayers – a leading UK copywriter who runs Cambridge-based copywriting agency MSCopy. Find out more about effective marketing literature at www.mscopy.co.uk