February 24, 2014
By Ryan Malone
Video killed the radio star, so has social media killed press releases? The answer is no, the press release is still a useful, practical tool that all content marketers should continue to use in their public relations efforts.
Writing a smart, memorable press release will help you expose your brand’s news with hundreds or thousands of people, depending on the distribution channel you use. And, as you savvy inbound marketing professionals already know, news coverage yields excellent SEO benefits too. But the key here is that in order to drive results, your press release has to be impactful.
If you are new to writing press releases and want to craft something that gets the attention of reporters, make sure you follow these five tips:
Before even starting to draft a press release, think about what your hook is going to be. Creating a strong hook, or angle, is a crucial media relations skill. Your main audience is going to be journalists, and they are going to be well versed in your industry because it’s their job to report on it. Think about they type of content that those journalists would be interested in, and research the sort of stories they’ve written in the past. Figure out what your unique hook is and how you can use that hook to engage media and get them curious to learn more.
Because journalists are the ones who will be reading your release, its important to effectively communicate your messaging. Before writing the release, dilute what you are trying to say into the 5W’s—who, what, where, when and why. Try putting a sentence to each ‘W’ to help craft a smart, effective story.
A strong headline is a concept that most content marketing pros already understand. It’s the same when it comes to successful blog writing. The same thing goes for a press release—you want to grab the reader’s attention right out of the gate. Be creative, and look back to blogs to see what headlines really worked. Remember, while it’s important to get your brand name in there, what the journalists really care about is finding a good story. Make sure your headline sells the overarching concept or trend shared in your press release.
Because journalists are your target audience, you want to think about the assets they might need to fully report your news or to create the best possible story to share with their viewers, readers or listeners. Make your release more memorable by using compelling images, links to video, expert sources for commentary, etc. When writing the release and thinking about what assets you might have to offer up, perhaps look at an article or news segment you really enjoyed and look at what the story included. This can help provide you guidance when planning out what you can share with the media. Make sure that any assets you offer up are in the correct format and that any spokesperson is media trained. The easier it is for a journalist to use what you’re offering, the more apt they are to take you up on your offer.
It might seem obvious, but please do not forget to proofread the press release before distributing it to the press. Typos or grammar errors can quickly kill your credibility and take away from the story you’re telling. Once you finish the release, set it aside and come back to it with a fresh pair of eyes. Or give it to someone else to proofread. Correct any mistakes, and proofread again.
If you follow these five tips and take the time to think about what will truly resonate with the media, you are going to end up with a killer press release. The more memorable the release, the more likely you are to get coverage, which will in turn get your company’s name out there, drive traffic to your business and will help with lead generation.
Have you written a press release that received widespread pick up? Can you offer any insights into what best practices you used when drafting that release?
About the author
Ryan Malone is the founder and Chairman of the Board of SmartBug Media and is a veteran of Deloitte & Touche, Seagate and several venture-backed technology companies. When he's not leading SmartBug and helping clients build high-octane marketing organizations, he's loving his wife and daughters and unsuccessfully learning the guitar. Go Terps! Read more articles by Ryan Malone.
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