Amid the conversations around the evolving journalism landscape, there are a lot of arguments for and against abandoning the traditional press release (or news release, depending on how religiously you follow AP Style). Clients often ask us whether they should still send press releases and we lay out the pros and cons on a project-specific basis— there’s no “one-size-fits-all” solution to reaching every target audience.
When they do ask us to write and send a release for them, we keep the following things in mind to make sure the release yields the best ROI on time spent and distribution cost:
- Headlines come first
Writers know the headline should summarize the information included in the body, but too often they throw them together as an afterthought. A wise old editor once said writing the headline first guides the direction you want the story to go, saving time and brainpower; this post likens the process to making a promise to readers that you’ve obliged yourself to fulfill.
The headline is the first thing a reader will see, so spend some time making it as inviting as it is informative and be careful that your lede isn’t just a rewording of the headline.
- Consider adding art
This may come at an added cost (though some distributors are phasing out added charges for images), but adding a photo to a release, especially one you hope outlets will run as-is or as a staff report, greatly increases your odds of attracting eyeballs to your content.
- Add some data
This applies to releases across the board, even if it isn’t a data-heavy story. A bullet list or even a few statistics to back up your narrative shows reporters you have the information they need to craft a story readers will appreciate.
- Jazz up that boilerplate
The little blurb at the bottom of the release that describes who your client is or what they do is often overlooked. Bigger corporations usually stick to “About…” descriptions that were written in committee years ago (and most readers probably already know who they are). But when you’re writing for a smaller, less well-known client, the boilerplate is especially important, and the most fun to write.
Think of something unique about your client, rather than a plain-Jane description of their services. Is the founder’s background completely different than what the company does? Are employees encouraged/required to volunteer in the community? Reporters/readers who aren’t familiar with the company will read the boilerplate, so include something that makes your client stand out.
Of course, there’s more to a crafting a good release than what’s mentioned here, but following these few pointers will generate better results for your efforts, and your clients. Press releases are a reliable way to get your message out, and if you write with an eye for style as well as relevant information, they can get your clients consistent media hits.
Wondering how to get your company, event or innovation noticed? Check out the rest of our website and give us a call, and we’ll explain the tried and true techniques we utilize (including press releases) to get your message to your target audience.