No matter how good a writer you are or how interesting your topic or client is, as a communications professional you're going to have to get used to your press releases falling on deaf ears. It comes with the territory—statistics show that newsroom staffs are consistently getting smaller, which means fewer reporters with less time to read and respond to your press releases.
Getting your press release noticed is more difficult than ever. If you're finding that you're not getting enough bites that turn into coverage, it may be time revisit your overall strategy.
With that in mind, here are 10 tips for refining your press release strategy, courtesy of Jon Schwartz, managing director of integrated marketing communications for NASCAR and speaker at PR News' upcoming Press Release Writing Boot Camp in Washington, D.C.:
- Be accurate. It's paramount that the information in your press release is factual. The carpenter’s axiom applies: "Measure twice, cut once."
- Be persuasive. Entice readers to continue reading. Use bold, informative language in the headline and lead. Make it simple.
- Use data. Back up your bravado with data. What research do you have to reinforce your news? Remember to always source your data.
- Have good prose. Marketing jargon is the enemy of the spoken word. To write like you would speak, you should read your copy aloud. Make sure it has a clear, simple expression of your idea.
- Be brief. Keep it to one page. Releases that go beyond two pages, especially third pages comprised of boilerplates, can irk a reader.
- Use quotes. But don’t overuse them. One quote per company will do. Try not to have quotes from two different people bump together to avoid confusion.
- Include a call to action (CTA). Every press release should include what you want the reader to do—visit a website, use a hashtag, tune-in at a certain time, etc. It sounds simple, but it’s often forgotten.
- Clean your copy. Where possible, use short sentences that don’t trickle onto second and third lines.
- Lose the widows. That annoying word left all by its lonesome on a line? Find a creative way to edit to avoid that eye sore.
- Measure. Determine what qualitative and quantitative methods you will use to track pickup of your press release. Are you hitting the right targets? Are your key messages penetrating? Is the CTA included?
Learn how to transform your press releases into shareable, multimedia content that reporters need at PR News' Press Release Writing Boot Camp on April 21 at Washington, D.C.'s National Press Club.
Follow Jon Schwartz on Twitter: @JonSchwartz1
Follow Brian Greene on Twitter: @bwilliamgreene