Press releases can seem like rather strange beasts, with particular bits of required text, specific information, tone and voice. This post will help make press releases less foreign and easier to complete!
What Information is Needed by a Press Release Writer
As a press release writer, you’ll need to have particular information. By the time you’re done, you should be able to answer these questions:
- Who, what, when, where, why and how? Who can often be a company, what is the reason the press release is being written and when is the date the what occurred as well as the date the press release is written. You have more room to play with where (which can be omitted if it’s irrelevant), why (which reveals the organization’s motivations) and how (which explains their process and procedure).
- What group is the information being written for? Softball fans probably don’t care about a new trading technique on Wall Street and Maine residents probably are not interested in local happenings of a small Arizona town unless it is truly newsworthy.
Newsworthy Headlines and Low-Key Marketing
Press releases don’t have to be boring or without a particular slant. Exceptional headlines grab the reader’s attention and makes them want to read more. When discussing the topic of the release, you don’t have to make the tone completely vanilla. Make it exciting with the why and how. Are you announcing a new product that has 10% of its proceeds benefiting homeless shelters or which is created only using fair-wage workers? This is important information because it takes a logical decision about a product and helps make it an emotional one by telling the reader why the topic is relevant to making the world a better place.
SEO Matters in Press Releases!
Because of the amount of written media online, even press releases intended for printed media should use good SEO practices. By writing good content and SEO practices, your client’s web ranking can go up. Check web tools like Google Trends to see what keywords are gaining ground to help increase hits during web searches.
To make a press release more personable, use a quote from a reviewer, company executive or other relevant personality. This makes the press release seem more personal and relevant to the reader.
Follow Formatting Rules
Press releases have particular formatting requirements using Associated Press style. This includes whether the release is immediate or delayed, a headline and subhead, date and place of the release (if appropriate), the body (including a first-paragraph summary and short paragraphs of 2-4 sentences, limited to 500 words), the company and contact information, and “END” followed on the next line with “###”.
Now that you’ve got a better idea of what’s needed, you don’t need to be afraid to pick up a press release job. Try one and see how your personal style makes it shine!
Cathleen V is a freelance writer available on WriterAccess, a marketplace where clients and expert writers connect for assignments.