If you have been researching how to best market your company or client, you have doubtlessly heard of press releases. A press release is a document explaining current events that is distributed and pitched to the media.

The purpose of these announcements is to hopefully land media placements for you or your clients. Reporters and editors alike derive story ideas from press releases. Sometimes, news outlets will directly publish your press release to their online platform.

When crafted carefully, press releases can amplify your brand well beyond traditional advertising.

1. Make Sure You Have News

If you ask a public relations specialist or content writer, one of the most significant challenges to crafting an effective press release is narrowing down the news. For instance, a company may manufacture an impressive toothpaste line. But is this news? What about that toothpaste line would entice a reporter to develop a story? Conveying the most newsworthy angle to media outlets will maximize your chances of nabbing pickups and placements.

A few simple rules can help you with deriving the most newsworthy angle for your story. Some ideal subject matters include:

  • Anniversaries - Company commemorations, galas and notable events celebrating anniversaries are frequently reported.
  • Launches - The press loves a good product launch. Make sure to include lots of details, including the product name, where consumers can find the new offering, and notable attributes.

  • Awards - Everyone likes a winner. When it comes to news, winning an award (no matter how obscure) is a great opportunity to share your achievement.

  • Insights - Has your company made a ground-breaking discovery? Or even a mildly interesting one? Offer your organization's findings to the media in the form of a press release

  • Mergers - The financial sector is particularly interested in company mergers. Mention any large transactions (e.g., "Firm X acquired Firm Y for $11mil cash).

The above are only a few examples of newsworthy subjects. When determining the news your press release is aiming to convey, consider the angles editors and reporters would be excited to write about. If you have a budget set aside, find a professional internet marketing agency to help you strategize your news angle.

2. Start with the Basics

Beyond strategizing the best news angle, knowing where to start on a press release can be daunting. Writing can be an exciting exercise, however, it can also be mentally draining. A quick way to begin forming your release is to begin outlining the most important information. For example, if your press release is announcing a new product you're launching, jot down the product name, launch date, pricing and where your audience can purchase the item. Scribble some key steps in the research phase, two or three vital product features and your vision for how this new offering will help your target market.

3. Include Quotes From Reputable Sources

Quotes are the life-blood of a press release. It's one thing to write about an event or cause, it's another to include notable participant voices. To efficiently gather quotes for your release, start by interviewing those involved in the news you're writing about. Take meticulous notes or kindly ask your interviewee if they are okay being recorded. Citing two or three reputable sources is suggested to ensure your press release contains adequate reinforcement.

Next, draft and include these quotations in your release. You may need to simplify quotes to make them more palatable for broad audiences. Avoid complex language and jargon. For instance:

A good quote: "The blackseed extract infused into our enamel-building toothpaste naturally cleanses while strengthening your teeth."

A bad quote: "The suspended electrons present in amalgamous detra-hydride cling to bacteria organisms to demagnetize negative ions."

See? If you're normal, you definitely didn't want to read the bad quote. In addition to making absolutely no sense, the "bad quote" example tells the reader very little about the new product launch.

It's important to note you are not necessarily required to consult people before quoting them in an article. However, it's recommended you notify sources with your press release before distribution and pitching to ensure they approve.

4. Use Smartlinks and Classic URLs

Smartlink technology has opened an entire new door for press release writing. With smartlinks, you can highlight specific areas of your press release you'd like your audience to focus on and forward readers to corresponding websites. These links are particularly helpful when you're gauging audience demographics.

Smartlinks can tell you where a visitor is from geographically, what browser they're using and even their user journey on your webpage. It's advised to use both smartlinks and regular URLs to ensure your release is benefiting your search engine optimization. There are several smartlink services available, such as Bitly and Short.io. Most of these online platforms are free to use and offer extended features to paying users.

5. Review Your Format

The whole point of developing a press release is to provide journalists with news-ready articles. If your press release isn't formatted correctly, reporters and editors will be less likely to seriously consider posting your release or developing a story based on your news. Make sure to include the news location (city and state in most cases), date, and a boiler plate (organization or brand description) at the bottom of the release.

Another vital factor to consider is whether a press release is ready for print or should be published at a later date. If the news you're sharing can be published right away, indicate 'FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE' at the top left of the document or in your pitching email. For news intended to release on a specific date, write 'EMBARGOED FOR DD/MM/YYYY' at the top left of the announcement.

6. Show, Don't Sell

Nobody likes a corporation that talks about themselves. Nobody, really. Save the bragging for your sales pitch. Press releases are about discussing, in factual terms, your brand or client's news. The right journalists will be interested in your news, but no news outlet will want to publish your sales pitch. If anything, you will receive solicitations from media groups asking if you would like to advertise.

Avoid exaggeration and limit your use of adjectives. Aim to show your news through facts, relevant quotes and insightful details that paint the picture. Journalists will appreciate this and your company or client will be especially happy with improved media outlet responses.

Get Your News Out There

With a carefully crafted press release, and a concerted effort pitching journalists, entirely new opportunities for brand visibility will open up for your organization. Implement some basic strategies and remain consistent in your media outreach. Journalists sometimes do not publish your first or even second press release submission. However, the more consistent you are in contacting the press about your news, the more likely you will get an article placed on a reputable news outlet.

Originally published May 27, 2021