5 Tricks for Writing a Killer Press Release
At the PM offices, we read through dozens of press releases a day from companies looking for news coverage. Some are unbelievably crisp and well-crafted, others ... less so ("overgrown" and "incredibly confusing" would probably be the two best descriptions of our less-than-favorites). It seems like everyone wants to get news out about their company, but not everyone is sure how.
People's online attention spans are a fraction of a blink of a non-second. Clean and careful writing can absolutely make the difference between your company's message being read and appreciated or being ignored and discarded with an "Eh, let's move on to the next thing." Not just for our newsletter, but for any press release you send anywhere, here are five easy ways to make your news more readable, understandable, and most importantly, attention-grabbing.
1. Use Short, Clear Headlines
Avoid long or jargon-filled headlines for your news releases. You want to use short, simple language that explains your news clearly in a way your customers will understand. News like "MegaCorp. Inc. Acquires Promotional Arm of BrandWarriors LLC" should be shortened to something like "MegaCorp Acquires Major New Business Partner" unless BrandWarriors is a name your customers will recognize immediately; "Print-zilla Purchases 10 New Kodak XXVII Large-scale Color-infusion Printers" would be better as "Print-zilla Boosts Its Printing Capabilities with Brand New Machinery," etc.
2. Include a Deck
A "deck" is a short sentence included after the title of your release, but before the body of your text. It's used to better explain the content of your message, kind of like a second hook to snare a reader after your title. They are usually called out from the body of your message in some form of highlighted text, looking something like this:
"[Headline] Promo Planet Shatters Sales Records
[Deck] Over 10,000 customers served, $20 million in new sales
[Body of news] Promo Planet Crushed last year's sales records due to invention of a time machine and blah blah blee ..."
Decks are an important addition to your news because they give something for people who skim news quickly to read and grasp immediately. If you news is to be published in a newsletter, something like our Headlines email, it will also give more powerful text for the teaser field, making readers more likely to click through and read your news.
3. Give the Most Necessary Information in Your First Few Sentences
Avoid slow, rambling first paragraphs on your news pieces. Go with something that expresses the date, results and parties involved quickly. "On April 30th, Marketing Ninja Inc. again hosted its annual food drive with great success, collecting over six tons of nonperishables," is a good start. "On a bright sunny Chicago Spring day, Marketing Ninja Inc., the country's best and only source of ninja marketing, partnered with Petey Pirates Pen Galleon, the world's biggest pen-filled sales boat, to overtake one of Chicago's best parks to host the company's annual food drive for people who need food," should be avoided, mostly because it's a rambling eye-poison of a sentence, but also because it doesn't express the most important information as quickly as possible.
4. Be Cautious and Light with your Self-promotion
While it's tempting to load your press release with as much praise for your company as possible, less is usually more with promotional writing. Too much praise will have your news feeling clunky and boastful. Try to keep your praise fact-based and relevant to the news. "T-shirt Paradise's partnership with American Apparel will lower bulk order costs by 66 percent, giving buyers an extremely affordable source of high-fashion apparel," is good. "T-shirt Paradise, the greatest company man has ever conceived, has forged a one-of-a-kind partnership with American Apparel that will cause all of our competitors to blast off into space and die of shame," might be a bit overblown and transparent.
5. Include Pictures if Possible
Pictures will make your news more engaging and relatable, especially with new products, hires or events. I've found that very few companies do this, which is a shame since it's such a good way to make your news "pop." If your photos include multiple employees, be sure to include a brief list of names of who is pictured so readers can match names to faces.
That's all for this week guys! I hope these tips are of help getting your press releases read, and see you all next week!
MONDAY MIKE FACT: I've barely followed basketball this season, which is disappointing since I usually love the playoffs. Hopefully I'll have some time this weekend to dive in and catch up!