Something you may not know about me: I write a just-for-fun blog from the viewpoint of my pets. (What? That’s not crazy, right?)
In the last five years of writing the blog, I have somehow (through no real intention of my own) become part of the pet blogger “influencer” sphere. Because of this, I get more press releases than I care to count from companies wanting me to help promote them.
And you know what happens to most of them? They go straight to the trash.
Why? Because there’s nothing in it for my readers or me.
Generally, these press releases are long advertisements, announcing the newest product, the newest hire, the newest…whatever. And they’re boring. So, so, SO boring.
If I…one itty bitty blogger…don’t find these press releases worthy of publishing, why would an actual media outlet?
Press releases can be a powerful tool in promoting your business. They lend legitimacy to your product or service and can get you free advertising (yes, please!) That’s why it’s so important to do them correctly.
So what’s the secret to a good press release? Make it newsworthy.
In my past position as a corporate copywriter, I put together many, many press releases. Most were targeted to our local news outlets and most were almost always picked up by at least one, usually more. Here’s what worked for me:
1. Don’t announce your announcement
If I had a nickel for every press release I received that began, “XYZ Company Announces Its Brand New Dog Food,” I’d be rich. Most outlets view these types of press releases (and rightly so) as thinly disguised advertisements. Unless you’re Apple Computers, they’ll probably pass them by.
Of course, that doesn’t mean you can’t make an announcement. Just do it in a more interesting, creative way.Think about what you enjoy reading about in the paper or online. Most people gravitate toward hard-hitting news, editorials or human interest stories. When crafting your press release, look for an interesting hook. Do you give back to animal rescue? Did your company help with disaster relief? Has your product been shown to increase pets’ longevity or reduce separation anxiety? Those are the types of stories that outlets will consider newsworthy and be more likely to pick up.
2. Write like a journalist
Media outlets always need stories to fill airtime or column inches. And the less work they have to do, the better. If they can pick up your story verbatim, they’re only too happy to do it.
Make it easy for them by writing it in good old-fashioned journalism style. Stick with the “five Ws and an H”: who, what, when, where, why and how.Quotes from executives, customers or others involved in the story tend to make a press release both more newsworthy and interesting. But don’t insert a quote just to have a quote. Make sure it adds to the story.
3. Keep it short
When you’re really excited about something, it can be hard to pare it down to just the essentials. But you’ll increase your chances of your press release being picked up if you keep it to one or two pages at most (around 300-800 words).
Sometimes media outlets have a very small space to fill, so they may only pick up a paragraph or two. Therefore, make sure the essential information is towards the beginning of the release. A good rule of thumb is to read the first paragraph only. Does it stand alone? If so, you’re in great shape!
Your turn: Have you ever used press releases in your business? How did they work for you? Any tips or tricks you’d like to share? Tell me in the comments below.
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