I want to say a few things about press releases. Are there rules? Sure. Is there more than one way to write a good release? Sure again. But here are some strategies I’ve used over the years that seem to get the attention I’m after.
Here are five things to consider as you draft a press release:
- The audience. Okay, I know; that’s really obvious. But it’s not just the editor/producer/writer you’re after. It’s their audience, too. Generally speaking, your release is really a prompt, a nudge to include the topic in what’s being reported. Rarely will the content of your release be used verbatim. Although I could be wrong there, too, especially when it comes to smaller media markets.
- Your quotes. You don’t need a lot, but the ones you do include should pack the proverbial punch (by the way, don’t do what I write; clich?s are to be avoided at all cost. There I go again . . .). Make sure the expert you quote is the logical choice. That piece of text might very well be used.
- Your heading and subhead. Pay close attention to the heading and subhead. It’s easy to get lazy here, but don’t do it. Your headline should grab your reader quickly.
- The lead. Don’t overload your lead paragraph. This is clearly the star of your release and you’ve got, literally, seconds to get your reader’s attention. Don’t blow it by writing a lead that drags on, makes no sense, and doesn’t get to the point. This is when you want “short and sweet.”
- The sound. Even though people aren’t going to read your work out loud (in most cases anyway) you should still read it out loud (and don’t repeat words like I do …). Just as when we proof sentences by scanning them backwards we can catch a lot of errors just by hearing how our writing sounds. If you don’t want anyone to hear you, hide out somewhere.