5 Tips To Get Your Press Release Printed
On an average day, I receive between 10 and 25 press releases. Half of them I immediately trash because they're about a professor's new book discussing how great books from professors are, or they come from a "marketing guru" whose claim to fame is being Seth Godin's poolboy's childhood scout master. Anyone working in daily news has eight hours to read, write, edit, post and publish everything, meaning they don't have time to waste. Each bad press release I read is like a cigarette taking five minutes off my life.
Here's the thing, though: I really want your press releases. I love them. I want to take them on picnics and buy them flowers. Having to produce our online newsletter Headlines every day, press releases are absolutely vital to my job. A well-written and relevant piece makes my job easier, meaning it greatly increases the chance your story will be covered. For all the marketing folks out there, I've put together some tips to help you write a press release that gets published.
1. Write your press release like it's a newspaper story. This means no first person ("our," "we,") except in quotes, no sales copy and yank the caps lock key right off your keyboard. News outlets produce so much material in a given day that they can't always write original stories based on each release they receive. If your press release is printable as-is, you have a leg up. The more your release sounds like an actual news article, the more likely it is to run.
2. Include quotes. Use at least one quote from someone, but more is always better. If you have a new product, have the person who develop it explain where they got the idea. When your company hires a new employee, ask them for a statement about the new position. Quotes make your press release sound more like a story.
3. Don't rely too heavily on a spell-checker. Spell checking programs will tell you that "throu" is wrong, but they won't tell you that you accidentally typed "though" instead of "through" or "an" instead of "and." On the same token, triple check all names. Microsoft Word doesn't know how to spell your employees' names, and neither do I. Make sure they're spelled properly and have the appropriate gender pronouns. We're depending on your writing to tell us if "Lou" is short of Louise or Louis.
4. Your audience has a 140-character attention span. This is no knock against your readers; the Internet has completely changed how we expect and process information. Today's audience wants news fast and to the point. That's not to say your press release should be Twitterized, but the first two sentences should be engaging enough to make me read the next 10. However, don't make your piece too short either, or it will seem irrelevant and likely not see print. Three sentences is a tweet. Three paragraphs is a news piece. Three pages is a white paper.
5. Send me chocolate. Preferably dark. We're not in the incentives industry for nothing.