You must ignore Public Relations (PR) people if they want to stagger in the Stone Age while the modern business world is already galloping in the fast-paced digital era.
Most client companies that hired PR agencies or in-house PR / corporate communications people have realized that the PR profession as a whole has lost its relevance in the current always-on business world dominated by digital media.
While PR is supposed to be a knowledge-driven communications profession, PR people are mostly unskilled workers who merely rely on crudely written press release distribution services. However, they can’t write even a basic press release properly let alone making a communication strategy for their clients or employers.
Today’s digital media channels that work around the clock demand a totally evolved approach based on dynamic communications processes. Even the traditional terminology is undergoing a rapid change where a press release may or may not be created for press or media people only.
Today, a press release is simply a write-up which can just reside on your corporate website or social media page. The information in the press release or that write-up can be consumed by your employees, business partners, investors, or other stakeholders.
But it’s becoming increasingly important to write the press release to attract all target consumers who are already buried under the digital information overload. The usual press releases that PR people write fail to attract and retain eyeballs.
Supposing on average 10,000 press releases are distributed in a day through formal delivery channels in the world, only 1% of them are used by the leading media publications (online and traditional) after a lot of editing and value addition.
The balance 99% of the press releases are discarded by media professionals – mostly because they are not written properly. But as a press release is the only formal and cost-effective interface between a brand and its users, companies can’t ignore the relevance of a press release in their overall marketing strategies.
So how should you write and deliver a press release in today’s evolving media landscape? Here are these 10 tips that will help PR and marketing communications people give strength to their press release-based brand communications.
10 Tips for a Press Release
Always write a short headline. As a rule of thumb, your headline should be of less than 100 characters with all the search engine related keywords put in the first 70 characters. Never put an abbreviation in your headline.
After the headline, you can give a very brief – about 50 words – text blurb or intro line under the headline. This should tell everything about the relevance of your press release. Then write the text of your press release. Always write short sentences, short paragraphs, and short words. If you want, you can put one or two subheads in the press release.
As usual put the boilerplate and contact info at the end. But your boilerplate(s) should be very brief – just two sentences are enough. You can always give hyperlink to your website instead of writing a long boilerplate.
The length of the press release should not be more than 800 words. It will always be better to put the most important information in the first 300 words. If you want to provide additional information, you can always provide hyperlinks in the press release that can connect the user to your website. Remember, here brief is beautiful.
Do not use those boring quotes such as “We are excited…” and “We are thrilled…”. Put only those quotes in your press release that are required to give the vision of the spokesperson and these are of some earthshaking nature. The length of the quotes should never be more than two short sentences. Write a quote as if you are writing a tweet on Twitter.
Always provide a relevant photograph with your press release. As nobody is interested in your dull logo, never send it with your press release. You will look foolish, if your job appointment press release is going without the picture of the appointed person or a product launch release is going without the picture of the product.
And always send your picture in the horizontal (landscape) format because these days text and multimedia information is accessed on horizontal computer screens, mobile screens, and tablet screens.
As your press release is supposed to be edited and used by others including journalists, always write it in an editable format such as text or document (DOC). Never create your press release in PDF format because it’s very difficult to convert a PDF document to text form.
While language is the most important part of a press release, on average 9 out of 10 press releases go with wrong language. And most press releases are ignored by journalists and others because of the wrong language used in them.
You are not supposed to break the language rules while writing a press release. For example, there are specific rules for using an ampersand (the sign &). It’s not supposed to substitute the word “and.”
Similarly, there are rules for using contractions, interjections, phrases, parlance, and upper / lower case. You cannot ignore all such rules while writing your press release.
Do not use the avoidable adjectives in your press release. Never use words such as “pioneer,” “revolutionary,” “world-class,” and so on. Instead of doing a shallow self-praise, let others say it for you. And it’s useless to use “award-winning” for something or someone without mentioning the award they have won.
There are many such tenor rules for a press release that you are not supposed to ignore. A wrong tenor would put off the reader.
It’s always recommended to customize your press release depending on the target audience. For example, if it’s targeting your business partners, your text should use business terminology. If it’s targeting consumers, it must go with marketing terminology.
You can create a master document for press release customization and use the relevant content from it to create customized documents.
Depending on the topic of your press release, you should send it as a personal e-mail (instead of sending it as a group mail) only to those journalists for whom it’s relevant. You also can use the same release on your own website and on your social media pages.
Plus, there are free and paid services that you can use to distribute your press releases. Then you can use the web monitoring tools to know if your press release is used by others.
While these are just some tips, you can learn more about them to write a proper press release.
If your company or the PR agency is not equipped to write a press release, you can always take external help from professionals. If a press release is written properly, it will increase the probability of attracting more eyeballs of journalists as well as other target audiences. Certainly.