Simple Ideas to Greatly Better Your Press Release Writing

By Jeff Santoro

A press release, also called a news release, is essentially a message to the media (newspapers, magazines, news divisions at TV and radio stations, websites, etc.). The purpose of a press release is to highlight an event, accomplishment, or a new product or service. The press release may be written on behalf of an individual, a group, a small business, or a large company.

Completed press releases are often published in part or in full by one or more of the targeted media. The best case scenario occurs when an editor or journalist chooses to develop the press release into a full-length feature.

In addition to traditional direct outreach goals, a thoughtfully written press release can also serve as an SEO article marketing agent and help increase a website's page rank on popular search engines like Google, Bing or Yahoo. In this sense a press release can really serve as a two-pronged marketing strategy for businesses: 1. Getting the word out about a new product, service or personnel change via traditional media. 2. Enhancing that business's website search-presence by publishing the press release at key free posting portals on the Web.

When writing a press release, keep the following 3 tips in mind:

1. Keep to your 5 Ws and an H: who, what, when, where, why, and how. Avoid straying into abstractions and irrelevant or unnecessary details. Press releases should be simple and to the point. Give it to us straight. Who or what is this about? When did it happen/will it happen? Where did it happen/will it happen? And finally, why and how? Why is it happening and how will it impact the future?

2. Whenever possible, include a quote from someone connected to the story. This could be the individual(s) that the press release is about. It could be a principal figure within the company or organization with a direct connection the noteworthy event. Bruce Kentner, a retired public relations consultant in Burlington, Vermont says "A quote or two in your press release is essential. It not only makes the piece more interesting and readable, it also lends it an air of credibility." Another advantage to quoting someone is that it presents a potential contact person should a media outlet decide to develop the press release into a feature.

3. Finally, a look at the very beginning of a press release-namely the headline. Newspapers, magazines and broadcasters may receive hundreds, even thousands of press releases each week. To ensure that a press release even gets read, be sure to include a snappy headline that states what the story is about. However, don't be tempted to include too many details. Save the how and the why for your body copy. Let's say your press release is written on behalf of XYZ Law Firm announcing that they have just added a hotshot young attorney to their ranks.

This would be an example of a poorly written press release headline: XYZ Law Firm Hopes to Bolster Its Prestige and Cream the Local Competition By Hiring Talented Young Attorney

A better press release headline would read: XYZ Adds Savvy Young Attorney

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