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This Is A Custom Widget

This Sliding Bar can be switched on or off in theme options, and can take any widget you throw at it or even fill it with your custom HTML Code. Its perfect for grabbing the attention of your viewers. Choose between 1, 2, 3 or 4 columns, set the background color, widget divider color, activate transparency, a top border or fully disable it on desktop and mobile.

Tips for Writing an Effective Press Release

Tips for Writing an Effective Press Release

writing a press release

My blog posts thus far have focused on fiction writing and editing. For a change of pace, let’s talk about business writing. Working in investor relations at a large company, I gained firsthand experience with press releases, especially those in which we announced our quarterly financial results. Recently I’ve done some further thinking (and research) on how best to structure press releases, and I’ve compiled a set of tips that I hope you find helpful.

1. Be newsworthy

To create a newsworthy press release, you need to put yourself in the target audience’s shoes. Most good press releases are issued when something happens at a company or an organization—a product launch is a great example. Regardless of whether an event has occurred, you should ask yourself if your target audience will care. You may need to find a unique angle that will matter to the reader.

2. Grab attention with an engaging, accurate headline

Be direct in the headline. Although you may be tempted, don’t try to be overly clever—it might just obscure your message. If a potential reader doesn’t immediately understand what your press release is about, he or she will just ignore it.

3. Get to the point

First sentence. Your reader’s time is valuable, so your first sentence is critical. In addition to your headline grabbing the reader, your first sentence needs to keep their attention and make them want to read the rest of the story. Janet Murray suggests that your first sentence should “read like the opening of a news story. . . .If your story was going to be featured on the radio today, how would the presenter introduce it?” She gives an example of a presenter’s introduction that could be adapted into a good first sentence for a press release: “And coming up next . . . why a local café owner is giving a free coffee this weekend to anyone born in July.”

Be brief throughout. Getting to the point is important for the entire press release. State the purpose of the press release, explain the meaning behind the purpose and provide some interesting detail, then wrap it up. There’s no uniform prescription for the best length of a press release, but here are a few opinions (keep in mind that these don’t count the material you can and should include at the end of the press release, such as contact information and company summary). And make sure you provide a link to your website for additional information!

250 to 475 words, according to Chris Well

300 to 400 words in three or four short paragraphs and a couple quotes, according to Janet Murray

One 8 ½-by-11 page with short paragraphs and lots of white space, according to Michael Long, who stresses that the point of a press release is to act as bait, luring the reader to find out more

One page (best) or two pages (maximum), according to Zach Cutler

4. Tell a story

There’s a reason journalists are trained in the “who, what, where, when, why, how” approach—it works. Readers will pay more attention to a narrative than to a recitation of a bunch of facts.

5. Write clearly

Readers shouldn’t have to work to understand your point. Avoid jargon, break your content into easily understood chunks, and use headings, bullet points, or lists to make reading easier on the eyes.

6. Include quotes

Use quotes to provide insight but preferably not to state facts. This is where you can inject a human element, so the quotes must sound like a real person said them.

7. Use numbers

Hard numbers used as support can make your story more compelling.

8. Edit and proofread

Check, check, and check again—as many times as necessary. A single mistake can damage your credibility.

[Maybe a good time to utilize a professional editor? I’m available to copyedit business and nonprofit documents, such as press releases, newsletters, reports, proposals, presentations, and sales and marketing literature. See www.louannpope.com for further information.]

Further Reading:

Chris Well, “How to Write a Press Release: 8 Tips for Authors,” DIY Author (blog), accessed November 21, 2014.

Janet Murray, “How to Write an Effective Press Release,” Guardian Small Business Network, November 19, 2014.

Russell Working, “7 Tips for Writing a Killer Press Release,” PR Daily, March 19, 2014.

Zach Cutler, “8 Tips for Writing a Great Press Release,” Huffington Post (blog), January 13, 2013.

About the Author:

Louann's former career was in business, finance, and economics, but she's always loved reading and language. . . so she obtained a specialized copyediting certification and launched a freelance copyediting career. Personally, her favorite genres to read are science fiction & fantasy and mystery. Because she loves language and has this eclectic combination of background and interests, she can copyedit a wide range of materials—everything from academic journal articles to company press releases to time-travel romances. Regardless of the type of writing, her goal is always to ensure that the manuscript reflects the best of the author’s ability and unique voice. She sees the editing process as a collaboration in which she acts as a bridge between the author and the reader.

2 Comments

  1. Press Release Distribution Tips May 28, 2015 at 7:55 am - Reply

    Great tips Louann! I think clarity is one of the most important parts of a good press release. If the story’s compelling and interesting, you just have to tell it like it is and journalists will be interested (as long as it’s relevant to what they cover!) If a piece is not newsworthy or relevant to what they cover, presentation typically won’t change their mind.

    If anyone’s looking for some tips on how to distribute the press release they just wrote or edited, I recently worked on this great list: http://fitsmallbusiness.com/press-release-distribution-tips/

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