In an age of email the press release may seem outdated but this method of distributing highly focused information is still as valid as it ever was. A well-crafted press release can enable your business to grab the attention of the media and gain the coverage your new product or service needs to make it a success.
Says Jane Lee of Dexterity an independent PR consultancy service: "Editors and journalists get hundreds of press releases a day so don't have the time (or inclination) to work their way through page-after-page of prose. Aim for a maximum of two pages (but one is better), keep your language simple, your sentences short and avoid jargon at all costs. Also avoid adjectives like 'leading', 'unique',' world beating', etc., as no journalist believes them so they just serve to irritate. And keep your tenses consistent, either in the past the present or future."
The key to a good press release that will be read and acted upon is to package the information you want to impart in an engaging yet concise format that doesn't waste the time of the journalist or news desk you have sent it to.
One of the most common mistakes that businesses make is to not thoroughly understanding the publications or websites they are contacting with their press release.
Ask yourself these fundamental questions before sending your business' next press release:
- Is your press release written for the specific audience your business has in mind?
- Is your press release succinct and to the point?
- Does your press release have an eye-catching headline?
- Does your press release include all the relevant contact details?
- Is the press release content engaging?
Top 10 tips for an effective press release
Writing an effective press release take practice, but your business can instantly improve the press releases it sends by paying close attention to some simple rules:
- Try and get your press release onto one page as journalists have little time to plough through pages of text.
- If you are sending your press release via email, make the subject line engaging, as this will grab the attention of the journalist and will most likely form part of a tweet they will send about your news.
- Never send press releases as attachments to emails as many companies see these as spam and instantly delete them.
- Don't assume the reader will understand highly technical terms or phrases.
- Use bullet points where possible to summaries information, as journalists tend to scan press releases before reading the ones that interest them in more detail.
- Ensure all of the most important information appears in the top third of the press release. Use the format of 'who, what, where, when, why'.
- Quotes are useful, but ensure that anyone that is quoted is available for in-depth interviews.
- One or two images are enough for a press release. More detailed images can be linked to, but ensure the link goes straight to the image's location. A journalist won't spend time hunting for the images, if the link you gave is broken.
- Don't send your press release then go on holiday. Or ensure someone is available for follow up if the press release generates some interest.
- Follow up your press release with an email or a call to the person it was sent to.
How to send your press release
Once you have written your press release getting it into the hands of the right people is the next major step. You should make it a business priority to know the key publications within your industry. Keep an up-to-date list of the editors and journalist that write about your sector.
Initially you should send your enterprises press release to the people you know are connected with your business sector. You can also use a number of press release distribution services that include:
- Response Source (for general business and consumer releases)
- Source Wire (for technology releases)
- Journalism.co.uk (for general interest releases)
- News4Media (for global interest releases)
- Realwire (for general interest releases)
- NeonDrum (for global online news stories)
It is also important to track the exposure that your press release has generated. There are a number of services that offer this including Press Index and the International Press Cutting Bureau. In addition if your business uses the services of RealWire or NeonDrum, the price you are charged includes a report of the coverage your press release has received.