How do I write a press release that is going to really get some traction?” We hear this question on a daily basis, and when writing a press release is certainly one of the most important you can ask. Here is a step by step guide listing the seven essential factors for writing a great press release.
Writing an effective headline is the most important part of writing a great press release. If we had to break down the parts of a press release into percentages based on importance, the headline would be 70 percent! When a journalist or reader is searching through a sea of competing headlines, all vying for their attention, the PR with the most engaging title and the best hook wins.
Here are a few tips for writing a winning headline.
Keep it short and to the point. The service we use has an 80 character limit. It must be engaging and capture the reader’s attention without sounding like a pitch or advertisement. ALWAYS write for the reader and not for the search engines. If you have key phrases that you would like to place in the headline that’s fine, but only if it is written for the reader and does not sound contrived or artificial. Keep ‘em wanting more. A great headline makes the reader want to continue and read the rest of the release. If you are having trouble coming up with headlines and/or reasons to write your release, go here and check out our free download -> “108 Brilliant Ideas for Writing Super Effective Press Releases.“
Basically, the summary tells the reader what the rest of your release is about. A lot of times the headline and summary are the only things displayed on a syndication channel, so those should be your best, most engaging sections. Also, since those may be the only two sections displayed, it is a great idea to put a link to your site at the beginning of a summary.
Here are a few tips for writing a brilliant summary.
Keep it short and sweet, around 3-4 sentences. The summary is a good place to include a key phrase, but ONLY IF IT APPEARS NATURAL. Add a link to your site at the beginning or end of your summary. Be sure to mention the focus of the release, whether it’s about you or your business.
Quotes are a good way to build authority and help build your brand. If a reader sees a quote from you then they are instantly assuming you are a credible source. Or, if you quote someone famous or an authority in their field then you are connected to them by proxy. Keep your quotes short and to the point, 1-2 sentences max.
4) The Body
This is the “meat and potatoes” section of the release and where you have the chance to tell your reader what the release is about. A good, standard practice is to use the opening paragraph to tell the who, what, where, when, why and how of the story. Journalist are used to looking for this at the beginning of the body and will usually scan the first few paragraphs looking for specifics that can be used to craft their story.
Here are some tips to help with writing a compelling body.
Make sure your info is factual and not just unsubstantiated claims. Keep points short and relevant. If you have several, use bullet points or numbers. The more the better, as it will help support your position. Use the last paragraph to support the general release. Also it can be used to give the reader a link to more information.
5) Video release script
Since all of our releases are made into video news releases, we have added a great new feature! We found that just reading a traditionally written press release in front of the camera sounded unnatural. The whole point of adding a video feature to our service was to make your press release more engaging and increase distribution point options. If your video release is exactly the same as your written press release, and the anchor sounds awkward, then your total PR package will lose its appeal. So, in addition to the body section of our submission process, we have added a second section where you can write a video script with more natural language intended for viewing, instead of reading.
Here are some tips for writing an engaging video script
Think of the video release as a conversational summary of your written release. Write the script the same way you would tell someone what your press release was about verbally.
Keep it short and sweet, around 250 – 300 words, and always read it out loud to yourself before you submit it! Trust me, it helps. Write to keep viewers engaged. Remember, they will be watching this part of the release instead of reading it. So take a cue from television news instead of newspapers. Don’t insert links into the video script section. The viewers will be prompted to check out the full written release below the video. Use the video to prompt viewers to take action and get excited about the written press release.
6) Some common mistakes and things to be aware of when submitting your release.
Do not use the words “you,” “your,” “I,” or “we” in the release. Make sure your release is factual and engaging, and avoid hype or being overtly promotional. When writing for the media remember, you may think your product or message is the best thing since bacon ice cream, but they probably don’t care. You need to write about what is news to THEM and not what best serves you. Make a habit when watching the news, reading magazines or newspapers to take note of what is being reported on and craft your release so it is easy for the media to pick up and run your message.
Make sure you spell check you release before submitting it for approval. Make a point of reviewing your press release distributor's editorial guidelines before submitting your first couple of releases.
7) SEO and PR
It wasn’t long ago that many press releases were used as a vehicle to promote useless spammy content solely for the purpose of artificially inflating a sites search engine rankings. Those days are long gone, and search engines have radically clamped down on overly SEO’d content and releases. That isn’t to say PR’s aren’t still an excellent way to help drive traffic, gain readership and help your site rise in the search engine rankings. You just need to play by a new set of rules, and quite frankly, we believe these rules should have been used all along.
Here are some tips for your press release and SEO
Always write for reader engagement and not the search engines. Search engines have become increasingly sophisticated in detecting quality content verses spam and/or spun material created for search engines and not readers. Also, a new major ranking factor is how long a reader stays on a certain page and if they share that material via social media. If it is a boring, poorly written press release with no value, then the reader will quickly leave the site and more than likely not share your release via social channels, and so the search engines will more than likely not consider it news and not index the release. Avoid over use of key phrases and anchor text. If it contributes to the overall value of the release then feel free to add your keywords sparingly. But if it appears unnatural, you are probably going to have an issue with the search engines. Remember search engines have become increasingly sophisticated and are very good at figuring out what the gist of your message is. Avoid too many links in the body of y
our release. Many people believe the more links you have in a release the more effective your release will be with the search engines. We have found this to be the complete opposite. The more links you add, the less overall value each link has.
Here is the formula that has proven by far to give the best results for search engine rankings.
Have 1 link to your main site placed in the summary section or beginning of the release body. We HIGHLY recommend that you use a “naked” link opposed to an anchor text link to your site. A naked link would look like this http://www.localblitz.com/ and an anchor text link would look like this ( Keyword Link ) .
We realize this goes against conventional SEO wisdom, but trust us. This has proven again and again to work the best. Search engines are looking for natural linking patterns and most folks when linking to another site use a naked link opposed to an anchor text link. Also search engines have recently implemented an “over anchor text penalty”, meaning too many links to your site with the same anchor text will cause your site to be penalized and even possibly taken out of the index altogether.
Have 2 links to other related authority sites. Believe it or not, our tests have shown that linking out to other high ranking related authority sites will actually help boost the value of that single utbound link to your site. But a good trick to keep in mind is, those other two links could be to other high ranking authoritative social media sites, like your Facebook page or YouTube Channel, or ven your Linkedin or twitter profile. You could be getting credit for citing another authority site besides your own, and helping to boost your social rankings all at the same time! Pretty cool, huh?
Remember search engines, above all, just want to give their users the highest quality, most relevant results possible. If you can keep that in mind when writing your release, you will be miles ahead of the competition!