Crafting a well-written, informative and shareable press release is an essential skill for communicators. The useful press release is the one that cuts through the clutter and carries your message straight to media outlets and vested consumers.
At PR News’ Writing Boot Camp in Chicago on Thursday Ben Lincoln, writing director at GolinHarris, and Dan Santow, executive VP/director, editorial services at Edelman, shared some important tips on writing a press release that advances your communications strategy.
Starting from the top of a release, headlines need to be short. They have been getting consistently shorter, and Google News, for instance, will only post the first 65 characters of any press release headline. A good way to test potential pickup for your release is to test your headline in Google and other search engines before you publish the release and see what comes up.
Leads need to be informative, seize readers' attention, and drive them to continue reading the release. It is not uncommon for a writer to spend 75% of their time crafting the lead and 25% on the balance of the release. Leads need to be concise, but also reflective of the big picture. And. oh yes, be sure and add a human touch.
The body of the release has to be written like a news story. Be spare with words and keep the word count under control; anything more than 700 words runs the risk of being omitted by Google. Be sure to employ links to drive traffic for your company, and also include keywords. Use keywords wisely, though, because Google algorithms will recognize if you are trying to artificially plug your release with keywords in order to drive SEO.
Finally, avoid bad writing habits, such as robotic language, clichés, business jargon and sarcasm. And be mindful that every sentence progresses the story and includes information to keep the reader plugged in.
To learn more, join us for the December 6 Webinar Press Release Writing 101: How to Write Relevant, Share-Worthy Releases.
Follow Dan Santow: @SantowDan, @EdelmanPR
Follow Richard Brownell: @RickBrownell