• Karen Osman

5 ways to write a better press release

The first recorded press release was written in 1906 by publicist Ivy Lee. Since then, the media landscape has changed massively, yet the press release is still the main way brands communicate their news. Here are some tips to make yours stand out: 1. Write for the reader – it’s amazing how many releases read like an advert. Yes, you want to communicate your key messages, but do it in a way that engages the reader. Consider what your audience is interested in and how the information will impact them. Also, focus on how it can help customers by talking about the benefits, not features. There will be many features of your product or service, but until a reader understands their value, you’re wasting your time.

2. Lead with the news – a press release should communicate a newsworthy development, so if there isn’t any, you might want to take a step back. Once you have identified the primary angle, make sure your press release starts with it. The journalist should be in no doubt about the main point of your story. A good way to structure your facts is by using the inverted pyramid model to put the most important points first.

3. Adapt your style – different media sectors have very different tones, meaning your content should vary if you’re pitching to a business publication instead of a lifestyle magazine, for example. Don’t send irrelevant releases, and tailor your writing style to reflect the publication’s editorial style. If the release is relevant for several sectors, adapt the information and create different versions with the most important information for each audience.

4. Create effective headlines – coming up with a strong headline that captures your story in just a few words is a skill. Again, think like the reader. What is it that makes the story stand out; what is new, notable, or unique? Keep it short (less than 10 words) and make the who, what, why, and when clear. Your headline should still make sense out of context.

5. Don’t forget to proofread – you’re sharing your press release with journalists who create quality content for a living, so sending a poorly written release, littered with errors, is not going to do you any favours. There are various online editing tools like Grammarly to help with proofreading but they don’t always pick up your exact meaning. When checking it yourself, try reading the text aloud, or starting from the end of the release and reading it backwards one sentence at a time.

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