As part of your marketing efforts, you might consider sending out a press release on a monthly basis to announce the exciting news and other things going on with your business or organization. While this is a tactic that many businesses use, and press releases can significantly help with SEO, it’s important to know that not all press releases are considered equal.
Years ago, during a brief stint in the newsroom of a mid-sized daily newspaper, I spent a lot of my time on a daily basis sifting through hundreds of press releases. For journalists, this is an arduous process, mostly because a solid majority of releases are not well written and fail to follow even the basic principles of news writing. The press releases that are well written, on the other hand, tend to really stand out.
So what do reporters and editors look for in a press release? Mainly, it comes down to the following:
- Newsworthiness. Most importantly, your press release should announce some form of news, and that news must be relevant to people outside of your organization. For example, if you’ve recently hired a new director, expanded your service area or are about to host an event, it will likely make for a good release. However, announcing that your products are “the best on the market” won’t suffice.
- Correct formatting. To ensure continuity, journalists write per the guidelines of specific style guides. Most news outlets today use AP Style, although there are some that continue to use the Chicago Manual of Style.
- Readability. Journalists are some of the most hurried and stress-out people on the planet, and they don’t have a lot of time to read lengthy press releases. Therefore, the key is to deliver your news as concisely as possible. In most cases, you should keep your press release to one page and fewer than 500 words. The perfect length, in my opinion, is about 350-400 words, but it really depends on the situation.
With all of this in mind, it’s usually a good idea to work with a professional press release writer, someone who knows how to write high quality, newsworthy and properly formatted releases. Ideally, this person would also have experience in the world of journalism or media relations, and should be well versed in the parameters of AP Style.
The team at ProPRcopy is staffed with dozens of skilled press release writers, and many of them have worked as newspaper reporters or broadcast journalists in the past. Regardless of the service you use, make sure your copywriter knows exactly what reporters look for when searching through the daily influx of press releases.
Steve Bailey, the executive editor of ProPRcopy, has written thousands of press releases for companies and organizations across a wide range of industries.