9 Elements for Drafting the Perfect Press Release
Creating an online press release allows you to target customers, media, and search engines alike. Learn the 9 elements that will maximize your exposure.
While every expert and novice has an opinion on how to create the perfect press release, there are certain elements that can’t be ignored. We’ve outlined them below and provided step-by-step instructions to help your press release get the attention it deserves.
1. Creating an Online Press Release
Whether you’re targeting journalists or consumers directly, you want to take advantage of one important thing press releases have to offer: searchability. We all know that how people get their information has changed and is continuing to evolve online. Keeping that in mind when you write your press release, you are essentially writing for two audiences:
a) People searching for your products/services
b) And search engines that index your content and deliver it to those people
Put yourself in the shoes of your perfect customer; what would they be searching for to come across your content? You are going to want to use that valuable stuff to fill your press release with. Don’t go overboard, though; it needs to be organic, not forced.
2. Before You Begin
The following tips will give your press release a professional and solid feel:
- Start Strong – Get to the point and be memorable. You only have moments to grab the attention of your reader.
- Write Professionally – Avoid clichés, ALL CAPS, industry jargon and slang. You don’t want to come across sloppy, so make sure to proofread.
- Use Quotes – If you, a customer, or an industry expert have a quote that can help illustrate the point you want to get across, use it. Just be sure to avoid the self-promotional empty words like, “they really are the best plumbers in town!”
- Identify the Problem and Solution – Every sale starts with a problem and ends with a solution. You are that solution and it needs to come across. Just make sure you don’t sound like a salesperson; remember, this is supposed to come across as objective “news”.
- Feel Free to Brag – If your company just developed a great technology or received an award, feel free to show your pride – just stick to the facts and keep the opinions at bay.
- Leave Them Hanging – The ultimate goal is to create a continuing relationship with your audience and what better what than to leave them wanting more. Give them a reason to “Learn More” by clicking through to your website.
- Less Really is More – If you can say something compelling and engaging in 300 words, don’t add fluff to make it 500 just because you can.
- Don’t Offer Opinions – Make sure your narrative is fact-based and free of “fluff”.
- Don’t Use First-Person Narrative – Always use third-person outside of quotes and do not use “I” or “we”.
- Don’t “Advertise” – Yes, you’re here to brag, but don’t make it a blatant promotion.
- Don’t Avoid Substance – If you don’t have something of value to announce, chances are your audience will see right through that.
- Don’t over-link – Common best practices are to have no more than one link per every 100 words.
- Don’t Address Customers Directly – Avoid word like “you”.
- New company launch
- New product, service, or feature
- Winning an award
- New partnership
- Sharing market research
3. The Headline
This is your one opportunity to grab a reader’s attention, so it needs to be well written and engaging. The key is to make the reader want to learn more, so if you can answer “Yes” to “Would I read this?”, you’re probably in good shape. If not, consider trying a new headline. We recommend writing the headline last and including keywords from the body of the press release.
Your headline should be 120 characters or less and have each word capitalized, with exception to prepositions and words with three words or less.
4. The Summary
This is a synopsis of the content contained in the body of the press release. It should be one to four sentences and contain your company’s name. Again, this is an opportunity to pull readers into reading the release, so make sure you would want to read it.
Some search engines and distribution points will only display the summary, headline and link to your press release, so making sure it’s well written is extremely important.
5. The Dateline
The dateline is a very simple and straightforward. Follow this format: City, State, Day, Month, Year
6. Lead Paragraph
The lead paragraph is the announcement to your audience. Assume that your readers have not read your summary or headline and attempt to answer as many of the who, what, where, why, when, and how of your story, while maintaining simple communication. Try to not overthink it and just be straightforward.
The length should be 25 words or less and contain critical keywords that will grab your readers’ attention. If you have a Website, you can include it at the end for added brand reinforcement.
7. The Body
This is the meat of your press release and where you can really establish your presence in the minds of your audience. The tone should be objective and not come across as an advertisement. Aim to have between 300 and 800 words, and always error on the side of less; no one wants to read unnecessary fluff.
Opening paragraph – elaborate on the who, what, where, why, when and how that you touched on in your lead paragraph.
Middle – add details to support your argument or solution. Reinforce your position by adding in any relevant quotes or statistics. Always include your Website address in this section as well if you haven’t already done so.
Closing paragraph – summarize your key points and offer the opportunity for the reader to learn more by going to your Website or inquiring via phone, email, or personal visit to your business location. This can also be used to give more detail on a product or service that you described earlier on in your release.
8. Boilerplate Statement
Typically, this content is used for the “About Us” content of your company, but should also include relevant information about important people or products/services. This should also be written objectively and not contain any self-promotion.
9. Contact Information
This is what media and/or customers will use to contact you should they want to learn more about your offering. It should include contact name, position with the company, telephone number, Website, and email address.
There you have it, the perfect press release. Use this formula to write your next media announcement. If you’re interested in using a distribution platform to get your press release out to more people, consider using one of the following services. They take a lot of the legwork out of distributing the press release yourself and will have a exponentially greater chance of being indexed by search engines as well as being picked up by media.
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