Press Release Guide
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40 tips for writing a brilliant press release – that gets accepted
Press Releases are one of the biggest and most cost-effective tools in your marketing arsenal and their effectiveness and market penetration should not be underestimated.
1. Press Releases
Magazines, newspapers and news websites rely on press releases. They make up the bulk of the content published, so they want your stories, case studies and articles.
Unfortunately, there is a lot of competition, so getting your piece in front of the right person, at the right time, with the right message, can be challenging.
Always send a fully crafted press release that can be published with little or ideally no alterations. If the publication wants more information or to re-write the article – that is brilliant. In reality, in most cases it will be cut and pasted and pushed out. This means if you have just supplied the key points, or sent in badly written copy and are relying on the publication to write the article, it will probably just end up in the bin.
2. Case Studies
Nothing grabs a reader’s attention better than an article that explores a topic or piece of equipment that they are interested in, which is told from the real-world perspective of people or companies working in the field. This really promote credibility.
Every project your company works on provides an opportunity to create valuable content for a case study.
3. Product Articles
If the publication you are approaching features straight product pieces with photographs, diagrams and specifications, then make sure the accompanying write-up isn’t too dry or monotone. Explain the features, benefits and feel free to delve into the reasoning behind a feature or design. Looking at the people behind the product and users who have experienced the features is also an excellent way to build bonds with your readers.
4. Promotional Articles
If written well straight product pieces can be interesting. However, there is a limit to the number of times a publication will run the feature. A much better strategy is to wrap the message into a story that loops back to your messaging, but told from a different perspective.
5. Technical Articles
If the publication is a technical one, speak to the editors and ask what they and their readers want. Examine how technical the audience is and write appropriately. An engineer will spend the time to read an in-depth article that informs and educates.
6. Educational Articles
As new techniques and technologies are entering the marketplace, it is important to not only be seen as an expert in the field, but also to educate potential customers in the new technologies. Writing articles on your topic that provide real value in teaching the subjects that surround your business and loops back to your messaging is very effective.
Articles, which are based on a list, such as “Top 10” or “50 ways” are always popular across social media, and are easy to write!
Before you send out a press release, make sure it is appropriate in content and style to the publication and it is the right publication to suit your audience. For example, an article written for civil engineers, full of complex knowledge, would not be suitable for a daily paper.
It is never a good idea to shotgun your article out. It is good practice to customise the press release to the types of publications, etc. Even better practice is to look at the style of each publication and customise your piece to suit each and every one. This takes a lot of work, but it is much better to go for quality than quantity.
10. Print or Web
Printed magazines and newspapers can give your brand credibility in the marketplace. However, their shelf life is limited with news a couple of months out of date. They tend to be free to the trade and widely available to your targeted audience.
Web based news media pushes out the latest content and is up-to-date. Articles can be shared across social media, so the overall impact has huge potential if your article can attract the right audience and create debate.
11. Brand Building
Creating wider awareness of your brand may entail reaching out of your industry, trade press and into mainstream media. Make sure your reasoning is practical and has purpose. There is no point in spending time and money targeting audiences that have no impact or influence on your brand, unless you are doing it for corporate responsibility or shareholder confidence. This is about your business success, always present a positive and professional image.
Never send a press release with less than 300 words or send just a photo, or video, without supporting text. This is vital for the editors to make sure their articles are SEO compliant. As to the maximum length, talk to the editors, some will be happy with 300, some with 3,000.
Badly written articles will do your reputation and credibility no good whatsoever. Consider using professional writers who can help you craft excellent and news worthy articles.
14. Error checking
Use a spell checker before you send out any press releases and make sure you have someone proof-read it. When you work closely on something it is very easy to miss really simple typos and mistakes.
15. Local or International
Many international companies have historically split themselves into regional divisions so they can market, sell and support their products more easily.
Targeting the media in that region is very important. There is no point in writing for a USA magazine if you only cover Asia. Some brands also have different products for different regions, which would make their marketing confusing with mixed messaging.
The internet is global, so writing for web-based publications does create issues as your regional messaging will be seen all around the world. Most magazines and newspapers also put their articles online and this is something big companies will need to address.
16. English, American or Australian?
Grammar and spelling can vary. Depending on the type of English you are using make sure your spelling suits that market. This is most noticeable in measurements, ie English metre vs US meter.
Different cultures call things by different names. In the US a bonnet is a hat, in the UK it’s the hood of a car. A lorry in the UK is a truck.
Try to avoid SEO keywords which can have different spellings, such as Analyze – Analyse / Aluminum – Aluminium / dual carriageway – divided highway / etc.
Do not take language for granted, do your research.
If you are reaching out to country-specific publications you might want to supply your press releases their language.
Your marketing plan should have identified this and you can work with translators to provide copy.
18. Metric or Imperial
Especially important for technical articles is whether to use metric or imperial measurements.
While the US is mostly imperial, the rest of the world went metric, although some countries such as the UK still have their road speeds in miles per hour instead of kilometres.
Consider using both, i.e. 20 feet / 6.096 metres. However, it does get even more complicated though as you can also have metric inches, and then there are tons, tonnes, long tonnes, short tons, gross tons and ton shortweights, which are all slightly different.
As it is your business you will already have identified what to use for the markets you are targeting.
Which currency? US Dollar, Pound Sterling, Yen, Renminbi?
It is best to use the currency from your own country unless you are specifically targeting a market. If in doubt, in Europe use the Euro, but the US$ is still regarded as the currency of international business.
Unless it is absolutely vital for legal reasons, or is really important for your campaign, never send out a press releases under an embargo.
While the PR may seem important to your business or client, this adds another reason why an editor may reject your piece out of hand.
21. Time & Event Deadlines
If your PR relates to an up and coming date or event, make it clear right at the start of your communications. That way the Editor can decide if it needs to be treated as urgent and schedule it accordingly or move it to the top of the pile.
22. Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)
Online publications use SEO tools to make sure articles they publish reach their targeted audience and gain maximum exposure.
It is a good idea to suggest the main keyword that promotes the topic of the press release and your article must include the keyword to deliver the best online results. This is where a professional writer will know how to maximise your communications.
23. Internet & Longevity
Once published online, the articles, from all publications will be indexed by the various search engines. This means that web-based media has longer term benefits than conventional media, with people finding and accessing the articles for many years to come. This gives your messaging longevity.
Always include at least one image with your press release which can be used as a header image for online publications as well as for use when the article is shared on social media.
It might be worthwhile engaging the services of a professional photographer to build you up a good stock of media images and to take photos to accompany the press release.
Always include details on who to credit for the images. Publications will not publish images without knowing they have the legal right. It is even advisable to send a few images with your press release, but if there are more than three put them in a dropbox and share the link.
Some company websites feature a media page with images that news outlets can help themselves to.
25. Image Captions / Cutlines
Every image should include a suggested caption, which may be locations, people’s names or equipment models, etc.
Many publications like to edit the video you supply and put their text and watermarks over the top. Always advise if this is permissible.
Where possible include a link to your video on YouTube or Vimeo.
27. Email Subject Line
Media outlets get hundreds, if not thousands, of emails every day. To get their attention make your subject line stand out so it doesn’t get binned immediately – without them even opening it! Start the line with “PRESS RELEASE” and then your text, which must include a hook to catch their attention.
28. Email Message
Get to the point quickly, deliver your message clearly. Tell them what it is and what you would like them to do.
29. Press Release Text
Include the text of the press release under your email message, as well as in any attachments you send. Most editors want to see what they are dealing with, without having to open attachments, etc.
Always include the name, country and website address of the company who is supplying the press release. Many publications will include a link to the company, so make it easy for them to find.
31. Social Media Links
It is good practice to include your company’s social media links in the email, so the editor can find them quickly, and not confuse them with companies with a similar name.
32. Social Media Hashtags
It is a good idea to suggest possible #hashtags that can used when the publication is sharing the article.
33. PDF or DOC
Most publications will just copy your text and paste it into their publishing program.
PDF files are notorious for breaking paragraphs and layouts and can be time consuming to extract the content, especially with fancy layouts. Attach a Word doc file, as well as including the text in the email body under your introduction.
Always put your header and footer in the embedded areas, not in the body text, otherwise that information is copied as well, which takes time to remove.
You will get far more mileage by building a good working relationship with the editor’s in your field. Always say please.., and thank you.., when they publish your press releases.
Make sure you follow the publications social media accounts, subscribe to their newsletters, and connect with them on LinkedIn. Send them a Christmas Card (if appropriate) and add a bit more chat in your communications.
Invite editors to your press events and give them every excuse to promote your brand.
35. Keep it going
Marketing is an on-going activity that can never stop or be brushed aside.
Make sure your marketing plan includes a press release calendar that schedules activities well in advance. Make plans, schedule writers and photographers and keep in mind that while web media can be instant, magazines can have deadlines months in advance.
36. Market your articles
It is fantastic once a leading trade news website has published your article and shared it all over social media – time to maximise your marketing efforts. Share the news story on all your social media platforms, get people talking and commenting on the article and engage with them to drive your message forward!
Do not just click like and move on…
37. Re-writes and Edits
Unless agreed in advance with the editor, you must accept that your copy may be edited, totally re-written, combined with other copy, or used in a totally different manner than you intended.
Sometimes an editor will reject your press release out of hand, with the email going straight in the bin. This might be because it doesn’t match their audience, or just because they’ve had too many press releases arrive at once. Or that day your email didn’t stand out from the hundreds in their inbox.
Never take it personally, just up your game! Maybe a follow-up email in a few days, but never more than one.
39. It’s Your Business!
Most editors are far too busy to devote extra time to re-writing articles or translating designer PDF brochures into an article. They are more likely to bin anything time consuming or complicated, and will simply move on.
So, help yourself by writing the press release in the style of the publication you are submitting to, and make it easy for your work to be shared – and share it!
40. Call in the Experts
Developing a successful, and positive media presence is time-consuming, complicated and really needs a good person at the helm to manage it and take your business to the next level, competing successfully with your competition.
Professional writers, photographers and videographers can be engaged on a freelance basis and will add polish to your brand and marketing.
A good PR Agency that specialises in your field is money well spent. They have the experience and contacts to push your business forward.