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Write a Press Release that Gets Read!

A well-crafted press release could mean free publicity for your business—and who doesn’t want free publicity? But the devil is in the details.

Here’s how to write a press release that ends up in print, instead of in the trash.

Realize this is an opportunity to advertise. Your press release cannot be overt: The subject must be newsworthy. Perhaps a local resident is taking his fiftieth cruise, or a local school group is traveling someplace exotic and using your agency to do so. Maybe you have a new, innovative service, or expert advice on how to handle an issue that’s been dominating the media—such as civil unrest or health issues in a popular vacation destination. You may also wish to ask for a publication’s editorial calendar. You might be able to time your press release so it coincides with a complimentary topic. In any case, your “news” needs to have clear relevance to the publication’s readership.

Do your homework. Research which publications will be a good match for your content. Industry publications might be a better bet than your local newspaper. Some publications have a link on their website regarding press release format. If they do, use it. If not, send your release to the editor of the publication as the body of an e-mail—not an attachment. That way, software compatibility won’t be an issue.

When writing your press release, keep these pointers in mind:

  • Write a one-sentence headline that sums up the subject. Use keywords people might use in an Internet search, if they’re interested in that subject. It will put your release (once published) at the top of their search results.
  • Get to the point in your first sentence. Don’t wait until the bottom of the page, because no editor will read that far if they can’t tell where you’re going.
  • Instead of using flowery, self-promoting language, use facts, figures, and quotations.
  • Write in the third person. Your release should read as though a neutral third party wrote it, not as though you are writing about yourself.
  • Include accurate contact information and links to your business website or other pertinent sites. When possible, include multimedia, such as slide shows and video, properly edited.
  • Make sure your press release is not more than one page in length.
  • Close your release with ### centered under the last line, signaling to the editor that this is the end.

Before you hit the “send” key. Before you send your press release, there’s one more step to take. Track down your favorite English major and ask him or her to proofread the release. A press release with grammatical errors can cause two very different problems: The editor may not take you seriously, or decide it’s too much work to fix your release; either way, it won’t run. On the other hand, if there’s a rush—and your release neatly fits an empty space—it may be published exactly as you submitted it. Make sure it’s perfect.

Written by Jennifer Reynolds, staff writer for Agent Life magazine.

Click here to read this article in the digital edition of Agent Life.