When writing a press release, it’s important to keep in mind the do’s and don’ts. After all, they can make all the difference in whether or not that busy reporter you’re targeting narrows in on your blood and sweat or simply tosses it in the virtual trashcan. To help keep you on track, we’ve compiled the top surefire ways to catch the eye and prevent immediate deletion.
Appeal to your audience.
Like all forms of writing, your first step in writing the perfect press release is to keep in mind who will be reading your work. More often than not it’s a busy reporter or calendar editor who is opening their inbox to a flood of emails bidding for their time.
Give some love to the subject line.
This is the first thing your audience will see, so it shouldn’t be overlooked. The inverted pyramid of writing starts with the subject line on your email blast, not the email message itself. You want the to strike the perfect balance with being straightforward yet enticing. Save the extra description for the meat of your release, but let them know why they should care to open your email.
- Lackluster subject: Announcing Our New Cupcake Flavor.
- Better: Rich Butter Cream Cupcakes Now Up for Grabs.
Provide all the facts, fast.
Again, your audience should be in the back of your head throughout the entire writing process. Your reader is likely in a hurry to get through their endless emails, and they are just looking for a reason to weed out the unnecessary—so don’t give them one. “Here is my subject matter, this is why you care, and what additional information can I provide you to make your job easier.” The more well written it is, the more they can pull from your release to their article—equaling less work for them, and that make a busy writer happy.
Keep the fluff and extra descriptive words to a minimum.
Reporters appreciate less weed work to get to what they need to know, and that involves not being bombarded with trails of cheesy descriptive words. Too often in the PR world we throw out an excess of adjectives that just end up screaming overcompensation. We want to sell our story or product, but there’s a fine line to be walked.
- Example of what not to do: These deliciously succulent pillows of sugary bliss will tantalize your taste buds.
- Better: Our new butter cream cupcakes are rich with flavor and sure to make your day a bit more decadent.
The first oversaturates the reader (to say the least), the second still promotes your product but uses real language in between the sell words.
When it comes to style, stick to the basics.
Remember, you want your press release to be fun to read and stimulating to the reader to whom you’re pitching, but you are still writing a professional correspondence that is representing not only yourself and your company, but your client as well. With this in mind, the basics are best for styling your release—readable, universal font such as Cambria or Times New Roman, in a default font size such as 12pt. And like the little black dress, black font never goes out of style. Tone is also important. You’re talking to your reader and it’s ok to be enthusiastic at points, but you should never be screaming every sentence! To that point, one exclamation point always does the trick, save the multiple marks for your tweet on how excited you are the Giants won!!! Simply put, you’re not in middle school writing a gossip note to your best friend. Squiggly “fun” additions such as *~* should never have a place. AlTeRnAtInG tExT should go without saying. And colorful headlines are for your crayon box days.
Now, go write that pitch perfect press release.
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