All sorts of organizations hire freelance writers to write press releases. Recently SweepstakesToday.com has hired me to write two kinds of releases for them.
The first is about prizewinners who become eligible for their 10K Club and the second is about the business itself. And that’s just one example from one company.
With the (misplaced and potentially disastrous I think) that news is more about profit then news, more and more of what passes for news comes from press releases.
Writing a good press isn’t difficult when you keep these points in mind:
- It’s about news . If your news release is to be used by newspapers, blogs and other media it must contain news of some sort. In today’s world that definition of news is pretty broad. Anything from an event through a new way of looking at something can be fodder for a good news release. PRWeb has several long lists of possible news to get you started.
- If you can link to big news you’re likely to get more coverage. Big news might be defined as that which shows up on prime time television or hits radio news. This isn’t possible for every release, but if you can somehow work the name of a celebrity in or something that’s hot right now, and do it in a believable way, your release will get picked up more often. But it’s got to be a logical connection. If you force it you’re better off without it.
- The old who, what, why, when and where pattern still works pretty well. If you get these covered you’ve probably touched on everything you need to say.
- Put the most interesting fact at the top and make your transitions easy so the reader will keep reading.
- If the reader needs information, like when and where an event is going to happen, or a website to visit, make it easy to find in the release. Just imagine how readers will look for the info and make sure it shows up in a logical place – the end of the release is probably the most used.
- Write a strong headline. Hundreds, even thousands of press releases cross editor’s desks (or more likely their poorly paid assistant’s) daily. A strong headline that let’s the editor know what the story is about and why it should be used is crucial if you want your release used. Thinking keywords here can help. They also help your release be found online.
- Create a powerful sub-head. This is like a teaser, provides a different focus and helps editors decide if they want to use the story or not.
- Press releases need SEO. Yes, search engine optimization is a must for press releases these days. Of course SEO is a constantly moving target, but if you think how you’d might search for the information in the release and use those keywords and phrases, you’re on the right track. You might find the post, Overview of SEO For Freelance Writers – You Already Know How To Do It helpful.
- Photos help. A picture or two that illustrate the facts and/or the people can help get the release picked up. Even head shots of principals may cause a local editor to run the story.
- Get the format right. The format is simple. Name of the company in the middle, contact information on the left, date and release date on the right, then the headline centered, and the sub-head centered – like this:
Sample press releases
- Boulder, CO Resident Now Eligible for SweepstakesToday.com’s 10K Club
- Sweepstakes Today Offers Free Online & Offline Content Plus Help With Ad Sponsorship
Have you got questions about writing a news release? Ask ‘em here or in our forum.
Write well and often,
First image from http://alter-eco.net/