How to write a press release journalists will actually read

Getting your brand in the news is a great way to raise brand awareness. A well-crafted press release is your key to get past the media gatekeepers.
Jan 21, 2020 • 7 minute read
Qasim Zulfiqar @BluLitmus
Technical Co-pilot
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Press releases get your company's name in the news and increase brand awareness

Creating brand awareness can be a tough task for a burgeoning startup. However, crafting a powerful press is a great way to reach out to prospective customers and make a strong impact. A well-written press release can push your new company to the forefront with new audiences.

So let's dig into how to do it.

What is a press release?

Press releases are usually short, captivating news stories written with the intent to improve relations with the public. The main focus of the press release is to eventually be read by journalists and press publications that will generate run the release as part of news story to get further traction for your company.

Press releases are great tools to get your message across to larger audiences by presenting them with a compact compilation of the best aspects of your business.

However, writing a good press release is anything but simple.

Journalists receive thousands of pitches on a regular basis. Only the best ones are entertained with a response. If you send a sub-par pitch, you're bound to get ignored.

Fortunately for you, we're sharing everything you need to know to create an insightful press release that will connect with journalists and put your company on the media map.

Having a newsworthy story

Before you delve into writing your press release, you should consider an important question.

What is it that people want to watch, read and listen to?

It's important to consider that the general public wants to know insightful news that they haven’t come across before. The content you write must provide something interesting, insightful or valuable to the people for it to be effective.

So, before you start drafting a press release, consider the following questions.

  • What new information does my story offer to the readers?
  • Does the story pique the interest of anyone outside my business?
  • Does anyone care about the contents of the story?

The last one sounds a little harsh. But for the sake of your company, it's the most important question.

It's natural to be excited about the progress and direction of your company. However, it's important to consider the reaction of publications and journalists before you dedicate the time and resources to write a piece about your business.

If you're unsure about the reception of the story, spend a little time to understand the nature of the content that's currently being published, and try to use that as a general guide.

After making the decision and evaluating the potential reception, you get to one of the most important steps of the whole process.

Craft the perfect intro

It's truly amazing the impact that a good first impression can make when reading new content. The same goes for your press release. Make sure that you write a great heading to grab the attention of your viewers. Make it concise and attention-grabbing. The heading might be the most important detail for your press release when it comes to getting a response.

Journalists today receive thousands of stories on a daily basis. Make sure yours is magnetic enough to grab attention and warrant a proper response.

Keep the contents concise

To ensure that your press release is relevant, keep it to the standard length of 300 to 450 words.

This is the perfect length to convey all the important details paired with the right quotes. Anything longer than this is often superfluous information that doesn’t add anything useful to your story. Don’t make the mistake of delving into your company details within the story. This information is usually much better paired in a separate note to the editor.

It's also important to understand that the quotes you use are to provide further insight into journalists. A lot of companies make the mistake of using quotes that are filled with facts instead of insight. Make sure that your quotes share your opinion and insights. And make sure that they expand and elaborate on the information contained in the release. Quotes that just sum up the contents of the release sound unnatural and uninteresting.

Aside from the general linguistic formatting and structure, it's also important to remember the following key elements.

Producing insightful data and reports

Sharing informative data metrics is a great way to provide value to readers.

Journalists love citing data that adds value to their stories. You can take advantage of the need for constant data by providing valuable information on key topics that can impact public opinion.

While providing data, make sure that your data is presented to the viewers in an understandable format. The readers aren't technical experts, so avoid the use of any jargon in your reports. Using visual elements to aid understanding is also a great tool to gain traction and provide value to your readers.

Also, make sure you can back up your data. Take the time to make sure it's been collected, collated and analyzed correctly, because journalists are likely to contact you to find out how the data was derived. You might even want to enlist the aid of a data scientist or an expert in data analytics.

So, where do you get all this valuable data? A lot of it is already hiding in your business. Your customer data can shed light on broad consumer and demographic trends. And, when in doubt, you can always survey your customer base on a trending topic relevant to your industry.

Consider producing a quarterly report that demonstrates these consumer trends. In time, your company could become the authority on a particular consumer behavior or demographic trend. If you produce a report consistently, journalists will come to expect it and slot it into their calendar for coverage. Providing the right reports can be a major game-changer for your publishing prospects.

The importance of leveraging trending stories

Viral marketing is a powerful tool, if you know how to use it. Trending stories spread like wildfire, and savvy companies know how to insert themselves into the narrative. By taking advantage of trending issues, you can highlight your company while being a part of a rapidly-spreading conversation.

However, taking advantage of trending topics is not a walk in the park. There's a science that goes into capitalizing viral stories.

Taking the following steps can maximize your odds of getting attention through viral topics.

Understanding social media trends

Social media is the best way of understanding the mindsets and trends active throughout the world. Properly understanding social media is like having a hand on the pulse of the world.

Thanks to social platforms like Twitter, companies today have the ability to understand trends across the globe on both micro and macro levels. Advanced targeting abilities allow you to be a part of trending conversations and push forward your message.

According to a recent report by Twitter, there are around 6,000 tweets every single second.

This helps you visualize the sheer volume of user interaction that's generated by these social platforms. They've become more than just a way to react to news. They're a platform for breaking news and for spearheading the cultural dialogue.

This makes it mandatory for every startup today to shape their strategies in line with these trends. Instead of trying to shape trends to your marketing message, you have a much bigger chance of success by shaping your marketing message based on the active trends in your target markets.

While delving into the world of social media, it is important to understand that timing is everything. To make a big impact you have to post at the right time. Posting late will be futile due to the rapidly changing nature of trends. This is especially true on websites like Twitter where trends change multiple times in an hour.

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Thankfully, you can keep up to date with trending news stories and conversations using a tool like BuzzSumo. The subscription-based service shows you trending stories, and ranks them according to their social media mentions. It allows you to jump into conversations right as they start trending. And these trending stories, as we're about to find out, provide a great way to craft a press release.

Tying company updates to key trends

Trending news stories and social media conversations offer the ability for you to push your business to the forefront of the conversation.

Whether it's a donation to the Australian Wildfire Crisis or commenting on trending policy decisions, tying your company into a broader news story is an easy way to get press mentions.

With the prevalence of the 24 hour news cycle, journalists are under pressure to produce a high volume of content on individual trending topics. This means they're hungry for anything new to add to the conversation. Tying your company into a trending news story in a press release is a great way to provide journalists valuable content while also getting your company's name in the press.

This process is called "newsjacking." It's basically hijacking a trending news story by making your company part of it. This might sound cynical, but it certainly doesn't have to be. Your company can do good things and be an agent of social change while still getting the side benefit of news coverage.

One of the best ways to take advantage of the trending nature of the social activity is by aligning your Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) activities with emerging trends.

Nothing grabs more attention today than acts of social welfare tied in with key trends. Contributing positively to your CSR activities is great for achieving the dual objectives of social good and company promotion.

Make sure that you're always on the lookout for rising campaigns that can tie in with your marketing strategy. And think creatively.

Use talented professionals to help with your press release

Writing may not be your forté. If it's not, don't fear. You can enlist the aid of a professional writer to produce your press release.

Using talented writers can be a great way to craft informative press releases the right way. Experience writers can give you a much better chance of getting published. Freelance writers are also a much more affordable option compared to hiring an in-house writer.

Be sure to provide a freelance writer with a clear brief so they can understand the purpose of the press release, the target audience and the information you're trying to get across. And give them a rough synopsis of the quotes you'd like to include. They can punch them up to make them sound coherent and authoritative.

A good press release could be the key to making consumers aware of your brand. The more you appear in the media (on your own terms, of course), the more trustworthy and legitimate your brand will appear. And, your brand will embed itself in consumers' unconscious, so that you easily rise to top of mind when they need your products or services.

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