8 Tips to Writing a Successful Press Release from a Journalist’s Perspective
Many press releases are dull and boring. They fail to engage the reader and usually end up getting deleted before they are even read. They lack attention-grabbing essentials that stand out to the reader. The whole point of a press release is to grab the journalist’s attention so they will read the information and report on the idea in their next publication.
A press release is a representation of what you want the public to know. Sometimes a press release can be about a new product your company is putting on store shelves, or it can be damage control. Either way, the information contained in the release needs to catch the journalist’s eye. A journalist typically scans the release to find relevant information; if none exists, into the trash bin it goes.
Writing a Successful, Readable Press Release
1. Grab attention with a good headline
90% of the time, a journalist decides whether or not a press release is interesting while reading the headline. If the headline is uninteresting, the journalist will not bother reading further. A catchy headline will advance the reading process to the next level.
2. Get right to the point in the first paragraph
This is important because that is what the journalist is asking themselves after opening the press release. Ask yourself that very question when writing the first paragraph. What is the point of this press release and why should the journalist read it.
3. Include hard numbers
Filling a page with a creative, colorful narrative is easy. Use hard numbers to prove the significance of your product or idea. If you are starting a new trend, back it up with numbers that will grab the journalist and scream for attention.
4. Make it grammatically flawless
Most journalists get annoyed when presented with grammar flaws. Most of the time, when presented with flawed grammar, they will stop reading and move on. Plus, the press release is a written representation of your product as well as your company.
5. Include quotes whenever possible
Quotes from key figures make the release, official. If there are not many quotes, that will force the journalist to contact you and ask if they can “quote you on that.” If they have to go through all that, most of the time they will not even bother.
6. Include your contact information
They will need to contact you with any questions or permissions not given in the press release. If contact information is not there, they will do one of two things. They will either print their own interpretation or disregard the release altogether.
7. Narrow what you have to say on one page
A long, drawn out release will lose the attention of the journalist. If you have to add another page, make it brief.
8. Provide access to more information
Provide a link to your product page and any statistics mentioned in the press release. They will need to check your sources before the print the story. In a journalist’s eye, sources are what make the story. Without them, the story will be marked as opinion. To a journalist, a piece being marked “opinion” is a slap in the face.
In conclusion, following these simple tips can mean the difference as to whether your press release is going to be read or not. Grab the reader’s attention in the headline and they will open the release. Otherwise, it will be discarded as spam. Remember that you need the release read to tell your side of things because you do not want your story told by someone else.
Ronn Torossian is a PR maverick and the CEO of 5W PR in NYC.