A press release tells a story the way it should be told. The basic constituents of a successful press release are simple. Caption. Opening Line. Body. Contact Details.
So, you would expect that entrepreneurs and professionals will know how to write one. Unfortunately, many do not. There is an expected standard, which is natural for every written form of communication. There is also a constraint for everyone and everything. A baker will work with the sizes of the available baking pans to create beautiful cakes and great bakers are those who know how to pick and mix the right ingredients to make cakes that are both tasty and appealing to the senses. In the same way, writers can put words together within the contexts of a press release.
Press releases are not proposals or informal features. They are official statements or publications regarding a new or significant information that pertains to you, your business, a concluded or upcoming event, or related experiences. They should advance the cause of your business, document important information for future use, and improve your SEO in the long term. Besides the acronym-filled long sentences, in this constricted box lies the biggest problem, the intent of the release. What do you want to talk about?
If you want the media to be interested in publishing your story or you want others on social media to share and publicize it, you should read “How to Win Friends and Influence People” by Dale Carnegie. Dale stated in his book that “First, arouse in the other person an eager want. He who can do this has the whole world with him. He who cannot walks a lonely way.” While the process is not easy, it is a straightforward one and the three basic essentials are:
- Write a simple but captivating caption
The most important feature of your press release is the SUBJECT HEADLINE. You know reporters get lots of mails daily so if your caption is not good enough, your email is likely to remain unopened. if you can’t hit the ball over the net in tennis, there is no point. If your caption is unappealing, that’s the end. So, get on with it.
What is your story? Why should your audience care? The good part of this that in deciding a good caption, you will be able to put your thoughts together.
To further put this into perspective, here’s what Derek Thompson, Senior Editor of The Atlantic thinks. ”I delete most releases after about .5 seconds spent on the subject line. Make the subject line personal, the way you would if you were asking a friend a favor. Not ALL CAPS or Super Formal but casual and knowing. “Yo” has worked before to get me to open the email. ‘Hey Derek, wonderful piece’ has also worked (flattery often does for journalists!). Other than that, you have to know me and what I write about, not just pitch me a story because it’s about business.”
if your headline does not answer a question, paint a picture or communicate with appealing data, it is not fit for the page.
Here are great examples of catchy captions:
“3 Tips for Success on Social Media” (Straightforward)
“Why Breakfast is Not the Most Important Meal of the Day.” (Different)
“Women’s Swimming Features Transgender Swimmer on May Fitness Issue Cover.” (Descriptive)
Now imagine your caption is a tweet, would you read it? Your answer is all the justification you need.
It’s also okay to ask your friends that think outside the box, for their honest opinions. Then get to work.
- Get to the point
Your opening line is important. Without dilly-dallying, state what your pitch is about. Get to the point without unnecessary repetition- where your caption, subhead and first sentence are basically the same. Excessive reiteration is annoying, and can cause you to lose any interest you managed to attract beyond your caption. Any appeal for publicity that lacks substance is a bald one and not worthy of attention or your reputation either.
In the words of Jason Gilbert, Senior Editor at Fusion, “Press releases, unlike pitch emails, should be thorough. We’re looking for all of the information about this new product or study or whatever that we can find so that we can determine if it’s worth digging deeper into. Links to websites with even more information are great, too. And you HAVE to have contact information at the end. And not just that, but you better be REPLYING to those contacts quickly, too. Don’t add an email address you never check, or a phone number for a line you never answer!”
- Write a relevant body
A relevant body is one that flows from your headline to further capture the attention of your audience. It should simple enough to understand yet interesting as well to keep your reader’s eye glued to the screen. There are certain topics that are complex in themselves such as science and technology, but there is always a way to simplify contexts so that your audience can relate. Write helpful news. Better still, explain it in a sentence or two like I am five years old, before delving into details.
In a nutshell, your press release should have a concise and catchy headline, with a relevant and straightforward body. Write news that is indeed newsworthy. You’re happy, everyone’s happy.