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September 6, 2012

The Six Components of a Great Press Release — A SPN Exclusive

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You just got off the phone with Oprah Winfrey’s people. They read an article about your business in the New York Times Sunday edition about how you are putting former foster care young adults to work in your green technology company. They are especially interested in your story because you came out of foster care yourself and now you are giving back to your community both through your green technology and through helping former foster care young adults learn new skills.

They are kicking off a new show featuring Horatio Alger type stories and they want you to be the lead. The only problem is that Conan and Anderson Cooper want to interview you the same day! What to do?

This hypothetical situation is what you call a good problem. A really good problem! We, in the marketing community, often get lost in our Panda, Penguin updates, and link building dilemmas and forget that the bottom line is quality traffic. One good article picked up by a major news outlet can be worth 2000 outsourcers spinning thousands of keyword stuffed articles. So let us not forget about good old fashioned public relations and the press release. Here are the 6 basic components to a great press release:

A great press release consists of the following components: A headline, a summary, a dateline and lead, the body, boiler plate statement, and contact information.

1. Headline

• The headline should be informative and should not be a sales pitch.

• Do a little keyword research and include your keywords in the title.

• The headline should be an attention getter. It is the first thing people will see.

• Entice the reader to learn more with your headline.

The length of the headline should be 60 characters if optimizing for Google or 120 characters for Yahoo.

The format should be Title Case which means that you should capitalize the first letter of each word except for prepositions and words of 3 letters or less.

Here is an example of a title: Former Foster Child and Greentech President Starts New Green Apprentice Program for Foster Children

2. Dateline and Lead Paragraph

The lead and the first paragraph of a press release tells you the who, what, when, where and why your reader should care about your press release. The best practice is to keep the lead paragraph, compelling, simple and short. Save the glowing adjectives for later. The idea is to grab your reader’s attention by giving the straight scoop on your story.

Ideally the length of the lead should be 25 words or less.

The format should be, City State, Day, Month, Year followed by the most important information that you would like to announce.

For example:

Burlington, Vermont, September 5 2012- Joe Alger, former foster child and President and CEO of Greentech Inc. has started a new apprentice program to help young adults exiting foster care find rewarding careers in the green energy sector. Mr Alger has opened up a new campus in South Burlington Vermont dedicated Green energy education. The grand opening celebration is next Saturday and is open to all who are interested in Green technology.

3. The Summary

The summary paragraph gives a quick synopsis of the contents of the press release. The summary paragraph comes after the headline and allows you to give a short description of your business and the information that you are releasing. It is important to have a good summary because some press release outlets just feature your headline, your summary and a link to your website. If all readers see is a headline they will be less likely to click through to the full press release.

The summary should be about 1-4 sentences.

Here is an example of a summary:

Greentech Inc, a leading green technology company in Vermont, has started a new apprentice program for young adults exiting the foster care system. Greentech’s president and founder, Joe Alger, was a foster care child himself and started this program as a way to give back to the community and to share his passion for green technology.

Here is a tip: Make sure you have your company name in the headline and/or the summary to make sure the press release is associated with your organization.

4. The Body Copy

This is your chance to tell your story. Remember, this is not a sales pitch. This is supposed to be a news story. Think as if you were a reporter and had to come up with a story about your business for the newspaper or evening news. Keep your tone neutral like a news reporter is supposed to.

In your opening paragraph cover the who, what, why, when are where of the story. The media will focus on this information if they pick up on your release.

In the center of the body include support for your story including quotes from interested parties or from those inside and outside the organization. Include any statistics, charts or backup to your claims in the story. Also include a link back to your website.

The last paragraph of the body usually contains the least important information. Use this paragraph to re-state and to summarize points made in the headline and body. You can also include directions on how to get more information and any legal info you need to include.

The length of the body of the release should be about 300-800 words.

5. Boilerplate Statement

The boiler plate statement is usually the “About the Company” sentence. This is a general statement that can be used over and over without changing it. You can also include any disclaimers or legal information in this section.

Here is an example of a Boilerplate Statement:

Greentech is a leading green technology company based in Burlington Vermont. Greentech was founded by Joe Alger who invented the first bean sprout powered mini-van as a teenager while incarcerated in a juvenile detention facility in Bratelboro Vermont. He has expanded the scope of his company Greentechsproutsinc.com to include natural gas applications to space travel, nuclear waste disposal, and quiet wind energy. Greentech employs 300 people in the main facility, on the outskirts of Burlington, as well as 30 young apprentices in their South Burlington campus.

6. Contact Information

This gives those who wish to contact you a way to do so. It should include your name, your company name, telephone number, website and email address. Note: Your email address will not usually show up in the actual press release.

I hope this information helps you get started with your press release marketing. It really can be extremely effective both from an SEO standpoint since Press Release outlets generally get favorable ranking in the SERPS but also from a sheer traffic standpoint. These are some of the basics. In my next article I will cover some points on how to make your press releases sexier.

Your comments are appreciated.


Matthew Meyer is the webmaster for The Free Ad Forum Internet Marketing Forum. You are welcome to join the forum for free to share and learn about internet marketing and SEO with other marketers from around the world.

3 Responses to “The Six Components of a Great Press Release — A SPN Exclusive

    avatar Alan Gray says:

    Great post Matthew. Too many press releases are just plain garbage – a waste of time and effort. I’ve been telling clients similar things. These points should help people to make their releases valuable.

    I especially like your examples and the advice about the summary

    Thanks Alan for the response. This has been quite a lonely post. I guess writing press releases is not that sexy! LOL. It sure is an effective marketing technique though. I plan on using it more. I wrote the article as much to start teaching myself.

    avatar Charlie McPoyle says:

    The thing that gets my attention is the headline and how it is presented. A couple of years ago, the game Halo came out with another installment of their series. The headline was followed with a commercial that made me want to buy the game. It was perfectly executed and it used great marketing to excite the target audience. http://www.lshlaw.com

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