A great press release makes your point clearly and gives others everything they need to help make your point for you. Remember, the people you are reaching are likely pressed for time and will want to understand or even repurpose your press release with as little effort as possible. If they are using the press release to write an article or review, you need to give them all the verbal and visual resources they need to do their job.
Here are a few basic guidelines that can make your press release more useful while helping to ensure it achieves its purpose.
Plan it Out
As with all writing projects, having a clear idea of the structure of the piece you are writing can help you focus your efforts and achieve your goals more quickly.
Gather Information or Imagery
Do you have all the information you need to make and support your point(s)? Double-check your facts to make sure they are correct before you include them. Would a picture say more than words? Use pertinent imagery to support your point.
Know Your Audience
Which audience is this press release aimed at– investors, peers, sources of capital, reviewers, opinion influencers, media or others? Having a clear idea of your audiences and their relative interest in the point you are making can help you tailor how you write your press release to make it compelling and useful to your primary audience.
The Headline Should Say it All
Press release headlines need to be short, descriptive and make your main point. This isn’t the place for a clever play on words; your audience wants to get the point and move on. Put the clever play on words in the first paragraph.
Start with a Summary
Start your press release with a short paragraph of just a couple of sentences that give the reader an overview of the whole story. For those repurposing your press release, this paragraph will serve as a source of subhead material. It should reiterate your main point (in different words) and tell why this information is important. (Again, know who you are talking to - what do they want to know and why should they care?)
Write in Order of Importance
Old newspaper writers learned to write an article in order of importance. This gave the newspaper editors the option to cut column inches to fit in other news, or fill space if the news day was slow. Start with the critical information, then move into greater detail. If your reader is engaged and has time, they’ll read more. If they are too busy, a quick skim should give them your main point(s) quickly.
Support Claims with Facts
When possible support any claims you make with relevant facts that prove it. Readers may or may not use the facts you provide, but those facts help establish or build your credibility. Only use facts that have a direct bearing on the point you are making. Irrelevant or obscure information requires the reader to assess its value, which slows them down, and undermines your credibility.
Quotes from knowledgeable or relevant sources help support your main point and make it more credible. They can also act to add warmth, give more detail, or explain a point more deeply.
Keep it Simple
Use as few words as possible. Say what you need to say then stop. In today’s busy world, two pages of writing will put people off. They want to get the point and the supporting information as quickly and easily as possible.
Write it Again
If time allows, write your press release at least twice. The second time through everything comes into clearer focus. You are no longer trying to figure out what to write, you are figuring out the best way to say it. This can help you get rid of anything that doesn’t need to be there.
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