8 Tips for Getting Your Press Release Noticed: A Professional Journalist's Advice on Press Releases
Writing Press Releases that Won't Get Trashed
As a journalist for nearly the last decade, I've seen press releases so bad I've crumpled them without even reading a word. Poor formatting, overly promotional, irrelevant to my readers.
Press releases, unfortunately, are an art form that offers no grey areas: you either write the press release well, or, you risk getting your press release tossed in the garbage.
Herein are 8 tips, when followed with precision, will not only help increase your chances of getting published but will help you or your business create an opportunity to become a recognized expert in your field.
The 8 Tips for Dynamic, Engaging Press Releases
- Make the Headline Pop. With 20 words or less, press release writers should create an exciting headline which explains the story in a concise manner and why it is relevant to a media outlet's audience. For example, "Detroit Teacher Schools Locals on Texas Barbecue" (feature) or "Texas Ranks Fourth in New AIDS Cases: Houston Named Eighth for Infections in New CDC Report," (news).
- Do Your Homework, Make It Relevant. The press release's news peg shouldn't be about your product, service or business, but how it fits into a localized story, answers a question or solves a problem.
- Open with 5 W's and an H. Who, what, when, where, why and how. All six need to be available in the lead (first paragraph) or second paragraph. This fits professional news writing practices and increases the likelihood of your press release becoming a new story.
- Watch Your Language. Show vs. tell is important. Don't tell an assignment editor your product is important in a press release; illustrate how it will offer a solution and help make life easier for its audience.
- Include an Additional Source. In professional news writing, reporters are taught to include three sources. By including quotes and information from an independent, unbias source that contributes to your press release, you increase the professional quality of your release and help reporters decrease workload for a story.
- Add Quotes. Without dialogue, literature would be less lively and a news story would be a snooze. So, how can you expect a press release to gain traction without quotes? Add at least three, including one from the additional source addressed above.
- Add Immediacy. Adding the words "FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE" (aligned left) above the first paragraph and headline, followed by media contact and telephone number (aligned right), you create immediacy and help increase chances of getting your press release in the news.
- End with the Pound. Professional press release writers add three pound signs (###) at the end, which conveys to reporters and media professionals they have reached the end of press release information.
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