by Shari Finnell
Back when I was working as an editor for a monthly magazine, I started my morning with an exercise routine. It went something like this: Delete, delete, delete … pause … delete, delete, pause … click, click, click … delete, delete.
Faced with a mailbox that was flooded with hundreds of emails delivered overnight and throughout the day, this practice of quickly sifting through pitches from an array of PR agencies, readers, and businesses became a 2- to 3-times-a-day habit. For the most part, I would spend a few seconds scanning a press release before hitting that “delete” button or moving it into a folder reserved for potential articles…
If I had bothered to read through every single press release in its entirety, I could have easily consumed five to six hours of my work day. So, why did I even bother with this massive task? Because it was always worth it. Inevitably, I would come across several pitches that were worth publishing.
As with any publication or news outlet with limited staff and limited time, press releases are an essential part of the news-gathering routine. They give the media an additional source for ideas, tips and updates that appeal to their targeted audiences.
OK. So, here’s the big question. What gets deleted? Well, more importantly, what ends up catching someone’s attention … so that it doesn’t end up in the dreaded Trash Bin?
Based on my experience from handling press releases on “the other side,” here are 5 solid tips to remember when writing a press release in order to get it noticed.
1. Create a solid headline. Summarize the point of your press release in about seven words or less. Make sure the words are featured in a larger-sized font in bold. If you are able to capture the reader’s attention in that first line, chances or he or she will read on.
2.Get to the point. Quick. Imagine that you only have a few seconds to get someone’s attention as they are walking out the door. Chances are you’ll spit out the most relevant details as quickly as possible. Think of your press release in the same manner. When writing your press release, make sure you tell your targeted audience as soon as possible what it is about.
3.Write short. Remember your audience. This is not the time to get long-winded. You’re not writing for a general reader. A media professional or website owner, in most cases, doesn’t have a lot of time to sit back, relax and enjoy a good read while savoring a cup of coffee. He/she will determine in an extremely short period of time is something that works for their publication or web site. If he/she has to read for more than a few seconds to figure it out, chances are your press release will fall victim to that Delete button.
4. Provide the “who, what, when, where and how.” Don’t forget the basics. Make it easy for someone to find all the information she needs to produce an article.
5.Don’t send too many. If you’re submitting press releases at the rate of about two to three a week, which some organizations and businesses tend to do, you will be perceived as the boy who cried wolf. Face it. Not too many companies are generating newsworthy content on a weekly basis. Not even the giant companies like Apple and Walmart. Don’t allow a media professional or web site owner to get in the habit of ignoring all the press releases you send out. Make sure your press release has content that your targeted audience will be interested in passing on to readers, viewers or users.
As you follow these tips, you will begin to create press releases that will avoid the Trash Bin … generating some attention for your product or business with added SEO benefits. What other strategies have worked for you? Feel free to share your comments and ideas below.