When you own your own business, there’s a lot more to it than simply delegating tasks. This is especially true when your business is your first job out of college. Much of what I write about is what I learn along the way. I went to business school, and did in fact study marketing and entrepreneurship, but public relations is a subject in and of itself that requires much additional research on my part in order for me to truly take advantage of what a good press release can do.
So let’s learn together, shall we?
On a recent visit to PR Newswire, I discovered their numerous white paper publications and decided to settle into a morning of studying, note taking, and learning.
The two white papers I’ll be working off of today are, “Press Release Boot Camp: What you need to know“, and, “The Six Questions to Ask BEFORE You Send a Press Release“.
When writing a press release, there are four things that you absolutely need to have:
- Contact information for the company’s PR or Marketing person in order for easy follow-up.
- A clear understanding of who the source company is (i.e. who owns the content)
- A dateline including the location city for your brand.
- Ex: Simsbury, CT
- An updated, current, company boilerplate to close with.
For many people, myself included, writing is most difficult right before you start. Sometimes inspiration just isn’t there, or you’re struggling to find something that you feel is interesting enough for you to believe that others would want to take the time to read it. This is why I love to start with outlines; just talking out loud about what’s going on at the company, anything I think is “super cool”, and what I wish the world knew about us. Just as you can create an outline for the creative piece of your writing, you can also consider using the following press release outline as a way to guide you through formatting your publications.
- There’s some debate on the length here, but 80 characters seems to be the sweet spot. Other suggestions include, 65-80 characters, and, 80-100 characters.
- Make your headline stand out with statistics or numbers
- Save the deatail for your subheading
- This is where you need to hook your reader!
- Include the 5W’s
- Who, What, When , Where, Why (or, as I like to put is, ‘Why should I care?’)
- Here is where you can throw in the all the details
- Be sure to use shorter sentences to hold your readers’ attention
- Bullets make for easy reading and easy sharing via social media channels
- Many people are more visual learners so be sure to include images, visuals, and infographics that support or lend themselves to what you’re writing about.
- Make sure that all the multimedia you use if formatted properly with a pre-planned caption and appropriate file sizes so nothing gets delayed when it’s time to publish.
- Using direct quotes from company leadership and others in the industry is where you can start to develop thought leadership.
- Keep them in a conversational tone – people like to feel as though they’re hearing from real people!
- Avoid overusing words like, ‘excited’, or, ‘delighted’, that are almost over-expressive and sometimes construed as insincere.
Call to Action
- Give your readers a next step; somewhere they can go, or something they can do, once they’ve finished reading your press release.
- Direct them to your blog or website
- Ask them to download your e-book
- Give them something to share