Most small business entrepreneurs find it necessary to wear several different hats in order to meet the daily demands of running their own company. While some may excel in the role of accountant or human resources others may find tracking and ordering inventory or customer service more to their liking. It all depends on your background and what role you feel most comfortable performing.
While everyone has their own strengths and weakness, the one area a lot of entrepreneurs find most challenging to master is public relations, especially when it comes to issuing press releases.
Experienced PR professionals know that reporters – the target audience of every press release – don’t read each release that arrives in their email. However, every day new articles are published in print and online that were stories picked up from press releases.
So what can you do to improve the chance that your next press release captures the attention of a local reporter? In short, don’t give a reporter any reason to ignore your press release.
Here are a few tips on what to keep in mind before issuing your next press release.
Avoid Spelling Mistakes
You’d be stunned to realize the number of press releases that are quickly deleted from a reporter’s inbox simply because they contain a typo or two. Spelling errors are one of the quickest ways to easily lose credibility in the eyes of a reporter looking to wade through an avalanche of incoming press releases. Proofing your press release before issuing it means more than just running a spell check. You need to read and reread your statement prior to release, and even ask a friend or employee to look it over, as well. When trying to stand out from the crowd, don’t make it easy for a reporter to ignore what you have to say. Make sure your spelling and grammar are solid before you hit “send.”
Don’t Bury the Lead
The first paragraph of your press release needs to clearly state who you are and what you’re announcing. Again, you’re not going to have much of a chance capturing the attention of a reporter who’s spent the better part of the morning reading press releases if you don’t immediately get to the point.
Say, for example, you issue a press release highlighting the release of a new product line. You don’t want to start your press release with a lot of unnecessary information that fails to mention the new product or its release date. Just follow the first rules of journalism and make sure to mention the who, what, when, where and how of your announcement within the first two paragraphs of any press release.
Quotes bring a press release to life. However, include no more than one or two in your release. Avoid getting “quote happy” and bloating the content of your release with unnecessary dialogue.
A good rule of thumb is to include one quote from a business’ CEO and one from a partner or customer. Third-party quotes are great because the add credibility to what your business is offering and prevent your press release from just being you talking about how great your business is.
Don’t Forget the Details
If you’ve ever read an event announcement and noticed that the location, time or date was missing, you know how frustrating forgetting to sweat the details can be for the reader and the releaser. If you’re writing about an event, make sure to include the most pertinent details of what, when and where in the first paragraph, so that anyone reading the release will see it immediately. When it comes to event announcements, these are the details the reader most wants to know.
Reporters love research. Not only does it make their jobs easier, it also offers credibility for what you’re saying. If you have some data of your own pertaining to your announcement, make sure to include it within your press release. If you don’t have anything immediately on hand, try running a quick Google search on something related to your announcement that you can include. Just make sure you cite the source of your data, as any good reporter will want to check your sources.
Avoid Buzzwords When Possible
Cliché terms like “revolutionary” and “groundbreaking” don’t carry the same kind of impact they once did, and should be used sparingly. You also need to be careful when using terms like “first to market” or “leading provider” in your press releases unless completely accurate.
It doesn’t pay to be long winded when writing a press release. Aim for between 400 to 600 words. In fact, you run the risk of it just being deleted on length alone if over 600 words in length. Keep it short in order to grab the reporter’s attention. If they require any more info they can either click on the links you have provided or reach out to for more information, if needed.
Check Your Links
It’s good practice to include a few links in the body of your press release that lead back to your company’s website or provide more information about your announcement. When you include links into your press release, double check to make sure they work before hitting “send.” It may sound simple, but you risk missing a huge opportunity if a reporter clicks on a link you provided only to find it’s a dead end.
Include Contact Info
Another no-brainer, but make sure you include both an email address and phone number a reporter can reach you at should they have additional questions or want to follow up on your press release to run a story. To whole point of issuing a press release is to generate interest in your story, so make sure whomever you’re contacting has a way to contact you.