• August 2012

How to Write a Great Press Release

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: Hope Katz Gibbs
Inkandescent Public Relations
hope@inkandescentpr.com / 703 346-6975

HOW TO WRITE A GREAT PRESS RELEASE

Tell a great story in a concise and clever manner, add in pithy subheads and easy-to-remember bullet points, and call readers to action

Washington, DC, Today’s Date — “Grabbing the reader’s attention, encouraging them to attend an event or learn more about a product or service, and intriguing reporters so they want to learn more is the goal for any good press release,” says Inkandesent Public Relations founder Hope Katz Gibbs, a veteran journalist who for more than a decade has been happily writing interesting press releases that get picked up by the media.

“Whenever I’m writing a release, my purpose is to tell a story—albeit briefly—that makes readers want to learn more about the topic I’m discussing,” she says. “Of course, it’s also rewarding to write a press release so that it reads like a mini-article, since this gives it a greater chance of being picked up by newspapers, magazines, and blogs.”

Subheads are a useful ways to keep the reader engaged

The reason is simple: Subheads not only break up the text with quick thoughts that summarize the essence of the release, they provide a useful place to briefly explain the gist of what you are writing about. Try this fun exercise: write subheads that are so tight and valuable to the story that if readers only scanned the subheads, they’d understand the purpose of the release.

Bulleted “action items” serve to draw the reader’s eye to key information

  • Bullets should contain short, concise statements that flesh out the critical elements of the press release
  • They reinforce the points that you are trying to make
  • Never provide fewer than three bulleted items—five is ideal, and seven is the maximum

If you’d like to add a concluding statement, or an ending quote that sums up the points you are trying to make, do it briefly here.

Keep the release short, filled with authentic keywords, and know what you are hoping to achieve with the release

Here’s why: If the press release is especially heavy on content, additional subheads are useful to chunk out the important elements of the story you are telling. Think of subheads as an abbreviated argument you are making, then describe the main elements that you want the reader to know.

Length: The ideal length of a press release is one page, or about 350–500 words, depending on the complexity of the topic you are writing about. Some press releases that offer a lot of interesting details can run two pages, but even the longer ones should not exceed 1,500 words.

Keywords: While much attention is placed on picking the right keywords to put into any document posted on the Internet for maximum Search Engine Optimization, remember that what you are really aiming to do is tell a good story. When you do, the right keywords will naturally find their way into the press release.

Goals: There are three goals for any effective press release, so be sure to keep your eye on the prize.

  • Good: To post the release on a reputable website where it will be picked up by Internet robots and bump up the organization’s search engine rankings;
  • Great: To have a publication pick up the release and run it as an article;
  • Ideal: To have reporters or bloggers be so intrigued by your clever prose that they contact the organization to do a full-length article on the topic, founder, event, etc.

What are some of the best websites to post your press release?

There are dozens of options to choose from—from free sites to those that charge hundreds of dollars per posting. Here are some of our favorites:

  • PR Buzz: Post unlimited press release distribution for $299 per year.
  • PRWeb: Services range from Basic ($89/release), to host the release and have it appear on search engines and news sites; to Financial ($499/release), which promises that your news will appear on top business and financial sites including Yahoo! Finance, Bloomberg, and The Wall Street Journal.
  • PRNewswire: Starting with its Search Reach package ($129/release), this package includes posting on PRNewswire.com; making your release “findable” by Google, Bing, and Yahoo!; driving traffic to your site with “live site preview”; a useful RSS feed and search-friendly permalink URL; and a social media toolbar. Additional options include more services, such as adding an image with Web Reach ($299/release) and WebReach Plus ($399/release), which also lets you receive a “webeam snapshot” of your photo and headline.
  • There are also dozens of free distribution sites: And yes, free is always nice. But buyer beware. The adage “you get what you pay for” definitely applies here.

About the organization

In this final section, be sure to include about 100–150 words of useful, interesting information about the organization that is releasing the press release. In this case, we’d highlight Inkandescent Public Relations, a full-service PR, marketing, web development, and design firm that helps entrepreneurs gain more visibility. Be sure to include details about how the reader can contact the company. For more information, visit www.InkandescentPR.com.

Save the date

If the press release is announcing an upcoming event, be sure to include details about the date, time, location, any fees, and a link for readers interested in finding additional details. This should be clear at the top of the release, and then listed again at the bottom to drive home the point.

END

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