How to Write a Press Release Effectively

Although press releases are not my favorite form of digital content, they do have their uses. And with over 2,000 press releases distributed per day by the top five wire services in the U.S. – Marketwire, BusinessWire, PR NewsWire, PRWeb and Prime Newswire – its obvious why most businesses opt for the traditional press release versus new media.

Since search engines are continually updating the algorithms they use to index, categorize and rank online content, and the SEO landscape is far different today than it was several years ago. Each day, customers ask our advice on how to generate online visibility for their press releases. Here is my advice:

Headline

Provide a clear, concise and compelling headline. The purpose of your headline is to grab the attention of prospective readers. For SEO purposes, the idea length of a headline is fewer than 23 words. You should also try to include at least one keyword in your headline.
Summary

The summary portion of your release should act as a teaser written in 3rd person as it lets readers decide whether they should continue reading. In 1-3 sentences, sum up the main point of the release. Include keywords and, of course, your business name. I find it best to write the summary last as you can be sure to include information from all aspects of the press release.

Body Lead Paragraph

The lead paragraph includes the who, what, when, where, and why of the story. If a reporter were to only read the lead of a good press release, he’d have everything he needed to get started. This paragraph will repeat information in the summary above.

Quote

In a separate paragraph, use a short, impactful message from the client, expert, or customer. Additional quotes can be distributed through the release as well.

Body

This is the bulk of your release and should include additional information to support the main idea in order of importance: most important to least important. Writers should try to show your expertise without trying to sell anything. Make the article informative and leave the reader wanting to know more.

Link early and often. Hyperlinks and anchor text help search engines better index your release by associating its content with other sites. It also helps provide content for readers. Be sure to link the first instance of the brand and/or product name to the homepage of your website.

About (Boilerplate)

I’ve found the template below to be a great starting point for drafting a new boilerplate about your company. This section goes at the end of your press release and gives readers a better understanding about your business, products and services, and contact information. Make sure to provide up-to-date phone numbers and e-mail addresses. Consider including a Twitter handle or other social media profile. Do not include contact details for communication tools you do not monitor regularly.

(company) is a (type of business) that specializes in (key word phrases).  (company) serves the (geographic location) communities of (list cities/towns).

For more information about (subject of press release) or any of (business name’s) (products/services), call them at (phone line) or visit them on the web at (website). Stay social with (company) on Facebook and Twitter, (Twitter handle)

Include Photos, Videos, and Other Multimedia

Multimedia content drives better press release results. According to research done by BusinessWire, a Berkshire Hathaway company, press releases with multimedia are more than five times more likely to become top-performing releases. Also, be sure to build recognition by including your logo at the top of your release.

Whether you’re simply e-mailing your press release to a media list, posting it to your Web site or are planning to distribute it broadly on PR Newswire, keeping this structure in mind will help you garner better visibility for your message – and results for your efforts.

If you find that you are still struggling, feel free to contact Lauren Barraco with your questions or check out my PR Portfolio for some press release examples.

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