Within the first year, about 20% of all U.S. businesses fail. Unfortunately, of the rest that survives, about 50% are in trouble after five years.
Owners face financial difficulties, labor issues, and the stress of making it on their own. But writing a press release shouldn’t be one of those contributing factors.
In fact, it could be a way to get people to buy your products or turn to you for your services. In addition, a press release can create much-needed buzz about your business and get journalists and bloggers calling to learn more.
While the best press releases are crafted in such a way as to have something unique to say about your business, you don’t have to be a professional writer to put a release together.
There are simple techniques on how to write a press release that will help you attract the attention your business deserves.
In the following article, we’ll take a look at 7 items to keep in mind when you get ready to write your new business press release.
1. Why Do I Care?
The first thing you’ll want to ask yourself is, “Why Is This Release Important?” Or, try to put yourself at the desk of an overworked editor or reporter, and ask “Why do I care?”
That stated, don’t get down on yourself or think that your release isn’t worth the time. Press releases are still around because they work.
Here are a few instances of when you should use one:
- Breaking news
- New products
- Hiring new staff
- Awards and honors
- Partnerships or expansions
- And events you’re looking promote
For the most part, your press release will follow this template:
- A headline
- Contact information and logo
- Your location
- The body of the release
- And any boilerplate facts about your company
The headline is at the top because that’s what you’ll use to grab the readers’ attention. The location is often called a dateline and is usually in capital letters at the very start of the release (CHICAGO —, SPRINGFIELD, Ca. —, etc.).
Your boilerplate information about your company is basic facts that will serve to fill out your press release and give useful information about your company. This could be when your business was founded, how many employees you have on payroll and a description of your products and services. The boilerplate should also include any awards and accolades you have garnered.
One of the best ways to get started on your press release for a new business is to check out a press release template (see website).
2. Assemble the Parts
Before you sit down and write, make sure you have all the resources you need. You’ll want to check names, product dimensions, years of service, hours for the event, etc. Basically, do some reporting and get any facts that you’ll need to get your release written.
You should speak to people involved with your business or experts on your topic and get some quotes to use in your release.
By using quotations and citing specific people, you’re writing will sound authoritative and help it read more like journalism and less like a memo to staff.
Lastly, gather any charts, images, or PDFs together before you start writing or have them on their way. You’ll not only find these useful while you write your release as reference material, but you’ll probably want to send some of these out with your release.
3. Headlines Work
The headline for your release is your attention grabber but don’t rush to write it. Many a clever headline has fallen flat because it doesn’t exactly match the content of the body copy that comes after it.
Make sure to use action words and vivid verbs in your release’s headline and keep it short. Don’t use nondescript words like “local man” or verbs like “continue.” They are boring and show a lack of imagination.
4. The Hook Brings You Back
The hook isn’t just a really great Blues Traveller song; it’s the part of your release that will get your audience to keep reading. There are several great ways to capture the reader’s attention, but the tried and true method is to use an interesting fact, ask a question, or use a quotation.
Using a fact for the hook in a press release is usually the best way to get to the point. Follow up with a little background information about your product and service in the next sentence or two. This will cement for the reader who you are and what you’re about.
5. Climb the Pyramid
Great press release examples stick to a style of writing called the “Inverted Pyramid.” This places the most important information at the top and the least important at the bottom.
Under the general topic of most important, you should try to cover in the first few paragraphs of your release the how, what, where, when, why, and how.
This is followed by the body of your release, where you’ll further describe your product, event, or new hire and why it’s important to your reader. Include here any quotations you’ve gathered and any multimedia you want to include.
Then include the boilerplate we discussed above.
Then make sure to finish your release with a “Call to Action” or a way to encourage your reader to participate. Ask them to call, or head to your website, or to visit your social media.
6. Writing a Press Release Tight
When you’ve finished the draft of your release, look for ways to cut it down. Writing is a craft where less is more. People don’t want to read fluff that doesn’t add to the point you are trying to make.
In journalism, this is called writing tight.
If you see a paragraph that is more than three sentences long, see if you can shorten it. Also, look to vary your paragraph lengths so that you don’t have a string of one-sentence paragraphs. This varies the cadence of the release and helps the reader maintain interest.
7. Edit for Success
Before you hit send, have someone backread your work. The old saying “everyone needs an editor” is there to prevent you from making a bad first impression or not being taken seriously by your audience.
Try to take any feedback you receive from that second set of eyes with professionalism. Of course, you don’t have to incorporate every suggestion you get, but you should at least be thankful for the feedback.
If you have doubts about any suggested changes, think about them for a while. Rushing to send the release is worse than sending it with a phrase or expression you’ll regret.
Ask for Feedback
If you’re a new business, don’t be shy about asking your audience if they thought the release was interesting or why or why not they plan to follow up.
Writing a press release doesn’t come naturally for many people, so knowing what works and doesn’t from your first tries serves as valuable metacognition.
Another good way to measure your work’s effectiveness is to use tracking software to see how many recipients opened your release.
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