As a business owner, it's sometimes necessary to communicate with the world. While you can get short messages out through social media, knowing how to write a good press release can enable you to release something more substantial, whether you are looking to make a statement on a particular topic, or you want to showcase an aspect of your business.
Unsurprisingly, press releases need to be professionally written and easy to understand, but you don't necessarily need the services of a content writer to create one; with a little guidance, you can easily make your own press release.
To show you the way, we've compiled a few tips to follow, so if your business has got something to say that the world should know, this is how to go about it.
1. Identify Your Purpose
The first thing you need to identify is why exactly you are writing a press release. Is it to share breaking news with your audience? Is it to promote a product or event? To announce that your company has won an award, opened a new store, or hired key personnel? Depending on the topic of the press release, the audience who will read it, and where it will appear, you need to find a hook that is relevant to your intended readership.
2. Lead Them In
Once you know your purpose, you can write your lead. The lead should contain all newsworthy information, while also going for the punch – the line that will get the reader hooked. Take Apple's latest press release, for example, about the iPhone 11:
Apple today announced iPhone 11, delivering innovations that make the world's most popular smartphone even more powerful, improving the features people use the most throughout their day. iPhone 11 introduces a powerful dual-camera system, offering an intuitive camera experience with the highest quality video in a smartphone and Night mode for photos.
The lead is date-specific and immediately identifies the release's purpose – a product that has been improved to meet user needs. It has used its innovative persona to push its product to the user while showing that it is driven by market need.
The lead is where the most critical information goes as it is at the very top of the inverted pyramid. When writing a press release, you should order information by level of importance, so the further down the pyramid you go, the less critical things get.
3. Leave Nothing to the Imagination
A standard press release should be around 300 to 500 words. Depending on the writer and the material they have to work with, though, this word count can be misleading. The trick is to know how to make the words work for you by bringing in enough detail in a few paragraphs to answer all the readers' questions.
As you don't have much room to paint a clear picture, you should decide which details are necessary and which will create more questions. For example, if you are talking about a new car, you could mention that it comes in many different colours, but you might not want to go so far as to specify which colours; this is because if you say the car comes in blue, then the reader may wonder what shade of blue.
Although the more finely tuned details may be left out, be careful not to omit those that the reader is sure to want to know. Using the same car example, consider the basics: is it a hatchback, a convertible, or a saloon? What is the engine litre size? The main aim of this press release is to inform and get the reader intrigued enough to want to buy the car, but if the reader doesn't know anything about it, they will not know if it fits their needs.
4. Use Quotes to Bring in Character
A good press release will try to include quotes from relevant experts that back up the claims in your content. It also makes the writing stronger, because it enhances your credibility and showcases a more human side to your press release.
For example, in a recent Tesco press release, the UK supermarket giants talk about helping 10,000 young people develop essential life skills. In it, there is a quote from the company's People's Director, Emma Taylor, who states that "to have reached our target in only 12 months is a huge achievement and testament to the energy and hard work of our volunteers." This quote gives further detail about the achievement and, as it is attributed to a very senior Tesco employee, the details will not be questioned. From a readability perspective, quotes also give the reader a welcome break from marketing text.
5. Make Your Headline Standout
The headline is essentially the title of your press release. Therefore, it is a good idea to create one after you have written it as you then have a complete picture of the message you are conveying to readers. Make the headline catchy, if you can; perhaps try a play on words or use a popular quote or phrase to set the mood and direction of the press release.
6. Include Contact Information
If you are sending your press release to a newspaper, magazine, or other sizeable publication, it is always a good idea to include your contact information. If there any follow-up questions, either to clarify what is in the text or to expand upon it, editors and journalists at these publications will have no way of contacting you. Not only is this a missed publicity opportunity, but you may even run the risk of said editor choosing not to feature your release.
By their nature, press releases are intended to allow businesses to communicate quickly and clearly with the public and the media; therefore, you shouldn't be sitting around for days trying to construct one.
Remember, it doesn't have to resemble War and Peace; it should get straight to the point and only contain the essential details, complete with contact information for any follow-ups. It should be well written and proofread, too, as a shoddily written piece full of grammar or spelling mistakes can reflect poorly on your company. Follow the steps listed above, though, and you should be able to create an amazing press release in no time at all.
What other tips would you give for writing press releases? Let us know in the comment section below.