In the coming weeks, the Mystic Media Blog will be devoting our expertise into a series of articles detailing the ins and outs of Promotional Writing. The series will cover several topics, from general techniques and suggested processes, to press releases, website copy writing, and social media.
Last week, we gave you a thorough how-to guide about Perfecting the Method of Promotional Writing. This week, we’ll go in-depth into the format and process of writing a press release.
A press release is a published written announcement addressed to the media regarding a development in a business. The purpose of a press release is not only to announce the basics of exactly what is being released and when, but also to generate publicity. A press release is the quickest, easiest way to get an important promotional message out into the world and can result in multiple published articles.
The subject of a press release can be a new product, an upgrade, a new service, an upcoming event, a merger of two companies, anything NEW. The audience of a press release is not only consumers of your brand and consumers in your industry, but also reporters, editors and other members of the media looking for content relevant to their readers.
In order to garner the attention of the media, the writer must ensure that the announcement within the press release is in and of itself newsworthy. A newsworthy story contains information relevant to the general public. Relevant information can be a new rate on car insurance, or a new app which helps you organize your closet, or a new company intent on taking over the world – anything about which people would want to know. An effective press release properly explores the ins and outs of its subject (the new service or product or event), as well as the ramifications of its release in the context of the industry to maximize the reader’s knowledge of how the decision to buy or solicit could affect them.
An excellent press release not only informs the reader as to what is being announced, it also functions as an article written by a reporter in and of itself. The media isn’t going to publish your press release unless they are convinced it’s relevant to them and their readers. The press release shouldn’t just be an ad for your product or service, it should have an angle or point of view beyond trying to get the consumer to buy whatever is being sold. It should provide context on the industry in which the product or service is sold to further validate the importance of the unique contribution of the new product or service. If you can sell your product in the context of a news article about a specific subject relevant to readers, the media will pick up the story.
Check out this great example of a press release functioning as a standalone article issued by Microsoft about Windows Phone 7.
The Windows Phone 7 press release explores the negative impact of smartphones, then distances its new product from the negative, thereby selling a smartphone. The subject of the article, the negative impact of smartphones, could feasibly be found in any magazine. It indirectly attacks their competitors (namely the iPhone) by claiming people use their phones recreationally too much to avoid the real world. The Windows Phone 7, on the other hand, is optimized for efficiently managing tasks necessary for work so that the user can get off their phone and focus on the real world. The marketing department perfectly crafted an article which is newsworthy, including specific statistics, while simultaneously using the issue to provide a context for their product to stand out as a solution.
When structuring a press release, begin with a headline which captures attention. We went in-depth into how to attract attention with a title in Perfecting the Method. After your title, always front-load the logistics (the “what” and the “when”), then explore the significance of the release and the impact on the industry.
The second paragraph of a press release often contains a quote from the CEO or one of the higher-ups in the company. The quote personalizes the message and gives the executives of the company an opportunity to showcase their intellect with insight into both what makes the product special, and into the company’s relationship to the product. A memorable quote can be a news story in and of itself, so try to procure a quote which is significant, personal and precise.
The final paragraph of a press release often connects the new product or service being announced to the company’s other products and services.
When sending a press release out, always end with a line of continuous periods or number signs to show where the printed text ends. This makes it easy for journalists to insert their comments below your official press release, facilitating the readers’ ability to distinguish between your company’s official words and those of the commentator.
A press release should come with a press kit of some kind. A press kit is a collection of company information and articles put together to address questions the media might have on your release. It should catch the eye and include a gallery of photos to compliment your article. It’s recommended you invest money into the photography and visual presentation of the press kit to further validate the importance of the announcement by attracting attention through crisp presentation.
For more information on creating a press kit, check this informative article out over at Entrepreneur.
Once your press release is complete, you will also want to attract attention to it and generate additional publicity. There are several techniques to approaching this.
First, you should start by publishing the press release on your website. Promote the link on your site to your consumers through social media accounts.
When it comes to generating external publicity, you can craft a query letter addressed directly to relevant members of the media who may want to pick up your story, and/or you can utilize external sites such as PR Newswire, Business Wire, PRWeb, and eReleases which offer distribution services, effectively promoting your press release for you at a cost.
The goal of a query letter is to entice members of the media to read your press release and consider publishing the release itself and/or an article on it. Keep the letter simple, personal, and persuasive. Address the recipient by name, state your purpose (to promote the press release), introduce yourself and your company in separate paragraphs. The goal is to tease them into reading your whole press release, so keep it brief and entertaining.
Be sure to know your audience and only address query letters to members of the media in your industry who will be interested in your product or service. You should begin by compiling a contact list of key media outlets where you can reach your audience.
If you can write a smart, effective press release complete with eye-catching photos and a press kit, then entice members of the media to check out the press release with a tight query letter, all that’s left to do is sit back, relax and enjoy the publicity.
At Mystic Media, through our vast experience in strategic marketing and application development, we have accumulated expertise on all formats of promotional writing: from copy writing, search engine optimization, social media marketing, web design, and more. Learn more by clicking here or by contacting us by phone at 801.994.6815