• Kylie Gill

5 Easy Steps to Writing an Epic Press Release

Making headlines - 5 steps to writing a press release
Time to make the right kind of headlines

Outside of paid advertising, press releases are an essential component of your marketing strategy, enabling you to effectively promote new products, campaigns and partnerships.

It’s about gaining attention from the right people who can further amplify your message via their channels, thus expanding your audience reach.

Whether you want to announce a new product, exciting partnership, leadership change, or sales campaign, the goal is to get the message out. And for those businesses on a lean budget unable to engage a PR agency, there are thankfully some fantastic DIY resources available. In five easy steps, you’ll be ready to launch a compelling press release to the masses.

1. Research

It’s a competitive landscape. Step one is focused on analysing your competitors, what are their recent press releases spruiking, and which media outlets have they gained traction with? Next, see which journalists or influencers are writing about your industry, location or product type. From your research, develop a target list of contacts to send your release to. This will form the base of your distribution list which will grow over time. Be sure to maintain this list as there are frequent changes in the media industry.

2. Format

The heading (H1) is the most important component of your release as it will be picked up by Google search. It therefore needs to be cleverly crafted to ensure it not only instantly captivates and entices the reader into finding out more, but also contains a major keyword such as company name, product name or industry partner – something relevant to Google and what your audience (customers) might be looking for.

It needs to be concise, yet wow factor. You will need to spend a significant amount of time crafting this, making sure every word of the heading is working for you, driving interest and traffic. Always think about your audience – what’s going to grab their attention? How can you stand out from the crowd?

The sub-heading (H2) supports the heading with more context about the announcement, and again, draws your reader in, enticing enough to have them continue to the first paragraph.

The first paragraph (the nutshell) needs to succinctly summarise what your release is about, key facts all up front. If you’re lucky, your reader will continue, but if not, you have at least delivered the crux of the news.

Paragraph’s 2 – 4 expand on the detail of the announcement, with ideally two senior people being quoted, providing their take on the opportunity ahead and the positive impact this will have on customers and the market.

Paragraph 5 is for a brief conclusion, providing any key dates for when the campaign starts or ends, or when the product will land on shelves. Finish the release with -ENDS- to signify the conclusion of your press release.

Then provide a key contact within your team for media to follow up with, including name, job title, phone number and email address. This will make it easy for media who are often on tight deadlines, to reach out, gain answers to questions and set up interviews if needed.

This should be followed by an ‘About’ company summary (and any other partner company you are featuring within the release).

3. Content

It’s important to be concise, journalists are time poor. If the heading and first paragraph does not captivate and inform, then they will read no further. A press release should never exceed one page, and if possible, should be accompanied with an approved image or two, clearly labelled, whether that be a headshot of your CEO or product shot. Ensure you own the copyright to images or have permission to use via publicly crediting the source.

4. Distribution

Copy and paste your release into an email rather than attaching it as a PDF. Most journalists and recipients of emails from unknown contacts are reluctant to open any attachments. The header of the email should replicate the heading of the release. You can however attach the images, as once they read the release, they will understand images are associated with it.

Send to your distribution list, any other influencers you know, customers, and industry stakeholders. You can also engage a press release distribution service to spread the news further for a relatively minimal fee (anywhere from $300 - $1200).

Personalise the top of the email to journalists you already know… Dear John, thought this press release may be of interest due to X, Y and Z. This approach makes it easy for journalists to connect the dots as to why your release is relevant to their publication.

5. Follow Up

Once your release is distributed, don’t just rest on your laurels. If it hasn’t gained traction in the first 24 hours, follow up key journalists with a subsequent email or phone call, detailing why it should be of interest to their audience and offer an exclusive, such as an interview with the CEO. There’s nothing wrong with a proactive approach, provided it’s newsworthy.

In summary, with some strategic planning and thoughtful writing, anyone can craft a showstopping press release. There are plenty of templates around to get you started, just follow the steps and watch the PR magic unfold.

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