A news publication gets a lot of press releases over the course of the day. In an ideal world, this document delivers valuable and maybe even actionable news and, if things are really well done, gets journalists excited about sharing it with the world.
Most of the time, though, PRs are breathy, fluffy and (yawn) …a little boring.
It's no joke that there's power in words. Indeed, they often make or break a Web offering. And you probably don't need to be told that the words wielded in news coverage can be particularly powerful. What's beautiful about this is that it is a realm over which you have some control, and improvements are easy to achieve.
Our Top 5 Tips
1. Respect Your Audience.
Who consumes press releases? Its rarely your customers or your community. Its most often the press themselves. They are busy, and maybe even cynical people. They plow through volumes of information daily. They may never read beyond the first paragraph.
Respect these peoples' time and needs. Be concise and to the point. Avoid “marketing speak” at all costs.
2. Use a Vibrant and Precise Title.
This is something we should have all learned in Business Writing 101. What you're sharing with the world has got to sound like news and be quickly comprehensible. Make your title stand out and stand on its own.
And if that proves difficult, then you need to ask yourself if you should be making this announcement at all.
3. Make the Content Scannable.
On the Web people scan content, they don't often read it. Be direct. Use meaningful headings. Express one idea per paragraph. Use the inverse pyramid structure — lead with the conclusion, then support it. Try using some bold.
Don't go into a diatribe about how your product or service may change the world; explain in plain terms what it does, why it's relevant and what problems it solves.
4. Quote with Care.
More often than not, quotes mechanically repeat the “benefits” of a thing. Many times they are simply not believable, due to the number of marketing wonder words conveniently stuffed in.
Don't do this. Again, respect your audience. You might have the greatest thing since sliced bread on your hands, but this is unlikely, and your readers know it. Respect their intelligence and they'll respect yours. Be brief. Be relevant. Drop the hyperbole.
5. Synchronize Your Website.
If you go to the trouble of publishing a press release, you should synchronize your website's information with the PR. If your release triggers interest, a journalist is going to dig further. Make sure that your site provides them with what they're looking for and enhances your news. Verify this and make is so, before you publish the release.
Lack of coordination between the PR and your website is easy to spot, can be frustrating and smacks of poor organization. Avoid that pitfall. It damages your credibility and undermines the root purpose of your efforts.
The Big Takeaway
… dun dun dun!
Respect your audience, write a clear, compelling title, write scannable copy, use quotes with care (if at all) and make sure your website supports your PR efforts.
If you can get this five-step process down to a science, coverage of your organization can improve significantly.
Your brand's reputation, helpfulness and perceived integrity are crucial to success in the transparent world of the Web. News writers are entrusted with helping to communicate these characteristics. With that in mind, it pays to write your press release with care.