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August 30, 2016

10 Rules of How to Write a Great Press Release

Is it true that press releases still matter?

Last week, I sat down with Shannon Gray, managing director at a 25-year-old PR firm, McKinney & Associates (cool enough to run their own Twitter chat, #socialjusticechat), and she said it best:

“Press releases are still vital. Today, they cut through the clutter of extraneous words of blog posts. They are the standard, recognized format for sharing details about an event, person or topic. Well-written press releases can answer who, what, where, when, why and how in a concise, easily digestible manner. They remain the gold standard for getting information to media outlets.”

Thanks to the fact that they’re thorough, informative, and relevant to a high-level audience, press releases are a tool that still helps marketers stand out above the competition today.

Unfortunately, very few marketers understand how to craft great press releases that can go far.

While many things go into crafting quality press releases, hiring a trained news journalist and ensuring your distribution is rock-solid are some of the best ways to ensure your press release success. Read on to learn more.

Why Press Releases Still Matter

Because so many marketers believe that press releases are defunct and irrelevant, the answers we got may surprise you.

Today’s best content marketers still believe very much that press releases matter. Take a look at what a few say today. All of these experts’ original quotes were featured in an Authority Labs roundup:

  • Rand Fishkin uses them for Moz, and said they’ve done very well for their company.
  • Assuming you have news to tell, a press release can even offer indirect value to your SEO efforts, says Rae Hoffman, CEO of Pushfire.
  • “If someone picks up your PR and decides to write about it, that can work out extremely well for you,” says Eric Enge of Stone Temple.

Last summer, we put together an infographic on the topic with even more experts and their thoughts.

Fishkin states that press releases are the perfect way to stand out from the crowd and establish your unique value as a company.

4 Ways Press Releases Win Today

With this in mind, here are some of the top reasons that press releases still matter:

1. Versatility. Press releases are a powerful form of content that can then be recycled into many different forms of content, boosting your strategy and helping to diversify your content approach.

2. Relevance. In our infographic, Fishkin points out that the press releases they wrote at Moz performed very well in tech media throughout the years. Because press releases are relevant and in-depth, they can help boost your brand among your audience.

3. Discoverability. According to Cheryl Conner from Forbes, press releases are one surefire way to help make a company’s news more discoverable. This, in turn, can contribute to boosting your brand and build your online reputation.

4. Timelessness. As the climate of marketing becomes increasingly more digital, press releases continue to stand out as a relevant, evergreen, and timeless form of content.

With all of this in mind, it’s clear that you should be creating press releases. Now let’s talk about how to do it.

10 Simple Tips for Writing A Professional Press Release

1. Master an objective tone

Press releases are all about delivering information, not opinions. With this in mind, it’s critical to write in a highly objective tone while you’re crafting and developing your press releases. This means avoiding speaking in the first person and staying away from making any claims you can’t directly back up with data. While first-person language and enthusiastic claims have their place in content, the press release isn’t it.

2. Keep your information current

As Cheryl Conner pointed out, press releases are an excellent way to take your company news and make it discoverable by national media outlets. This only works, though, if your business’s contact information is up-to-date. If a media rep has the wrong phone number or contact information for your company, it’s harder for the effects of the press release to take hold and you may well lose out on some of its viral benefits. With this in mind, keep all of your information current and update it whenever needed.

3. Double-check everything

Press releases are one of the most professional forms of content, and it’s critical to check and double-check everything you include in it. Even the smallest spelling and grammar mistakes can throw the effectiveness of your content off, so it’s essential to maintain your credibility and professionalism by checking all of your press releases thoroughly for errors.

4. Include quotes from top professionals

If you can pull a relevant quote from the executives or professionals in your industry, include it in your press release. In addition to making your press release more credible, adding relevant quotes from reputable sources also helps boost your company’s authority and link your name to that of a better-known professional, contributing to increased visibility and more relevance among your audience.

5. Write killer headlines

While a press release is a different form of content than blogs or articles, the power of the headline is no less. For a press release to function well, it needs to grab a reader’s attention, and the best way to do this is with the help of a powerful and compelling headline. Because press releases are one of the main ways companies go viral, writing compelling, emotional, exciting headlines can make it easier to claim the attention of journalists and news outlets alike. Just be sure that the headline remains factual and doesn’t venture over into sensationalist language.

6. Beef it up with data

Ambiguity has no place in a press release. For press releases to function well and serve your company accordingly, they need to be accurate and data-rich. This prevents you from coming off as a business that makes false claims and can go miles toward increasing the credibility and reliability of your claims. With this in mind, don’t shy away from including hard, fast numbers and statistics and quoting your sources flawlessly.

7. Keep it short

Unlike white papers, or something of the sort, which can stretch to pages on pages of length, press releases are designed to be short. While two pages is an acceptable length for a press release, one page is a better guideline. By keeping your press release as short as possible, you’ll be forced to include only the most relevant information. This, in turn, will improve the overall functionality of your press release and make it more appealing to journalists.

8. Include links

You’re assuming that your press release will be seen by journalists everywhere, and you want to give them the most possible bang for their buck while also promoting your company as much as possible. With this in mind, be sure to include relevant links to your business’s website and social platforms. When a journalist finds your press release, you should make it as easy as possible for them to gain more information and links are a great way to do this.

9. Get your distribution methods right

For press releases to function well, they need to be distributed accordingly. In many ways, press releases require many of the trappings as more familiar types of content: they need visuals, relevant, quality information, and SEO optimization. To boost your chances of getting noticed, though, you should also focus on distributing your press release in all of the right places. Sources like free and paid distribution channels are often valuable and can help you build a reputation quickly and easily.

10. Hire professional journalists

The one thing you truly, truly need to write a great press release are skilled writers: specifically, journalist writers. Because press releases are such a unique form of content, it pays to have a team of writers who deeply understand the purpose and value of a press release.

In addition to crafting quality, flawless press releases, professional writers will also be able to help you optimize them for SEO and get noticed by the press itself. This, in turn, makes your press releases more effective and can go a long way toward helping your company stand out. While it’s possible to scrape by writing your own press releases for quite some time, any company that wants to advance to the next level will need the quality writing and distribution expertise of a professional journalist.

Great Press Releases Need Careful Planning and Skill

While some marketers mistakenly believe that press releases are defunct, the truth is precisely the opposite. Today, learning how to write a great press release is a valuable skill that can help you stand out from the competition and provide enhanced value to your customers. In addition to offering relevant, solid information for your followers, press releases also help you get noticed by journalists and spread the word about your company. This, in turn, is a fantastic way to help your business grow and encourage a larger and more engaged base of followers who want to interact with your content.


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Julia McCoy is a serial content marketer, entrepreneur, and bestselling author. She founded a multi-million dollar content agency, Express Writers, with nothing more than $75 at 19 years old. Today, her team has nearly 100 expert content creators on staff, and serves thousands of clients around the world. She's earned her way to the top 30 worldwide content marketers, and has a passion for sharing what she knows in her books and in her online course, The Content Strategy & Marketing Course. Julia also hosts The Write Podcast on iTunes.

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