Better B2B Marketing 47 - How to write an effective press release
How to write an effective press release

Spreading good news about your business is one of the most powerful ways to raise your profile.

As well as grabbing attention, it can demonstrate your industry leadership and benefit your website and SEO as part of your content marketing strategy.

However, there are two key challenges – what to write about and how to write it!

So, as East Anglia’s leading B2B marketing agency, we thought we’d take a look at a few top tips to help anyone creating a press release for content marketing.

What can I write my press release about?

The object of a press release is to create an article which shares something interesting, relevant and new about your organisation.

Written in ‘third-person’, as if created by a journalist, it can be sent to websites and publications in the hope they will publish it.

A press release is perhaps at its best when it is relays something genuinely newsworthy – such as a new product, contract win, member of staff, qualification or quality standard.

However, depending on the size and focus of your business, such newsworthy events may be a little few and far between…

If you’re struggling for something new to write about for your press release, you could instead make comment on a topic which affects your clients or sector. This also helps demonstrate your organisation’s leadership.

Examples include predictions for the year ahead, reflecting on a change in customer needs or reacting to an innovation you’re excited about.

Remember, a press release reports something which has or will occur. If a member of your company’s senior team expresses a constructive opinion on something which impacts your market place or customers – that can be news!

Our clients are often amazed at how we can turn a minor development – or an opinion or viewpoint they’ve not yet publicly expressed – into a successful press release!

Give your press release a clear and intriguing headline

Within our team of experienced and accomplished content creators, there are two key approaches to creating a press release – headline first or headline last.

As it suggests, the former means coming up with the headline for your press release first. Often, simply thinking of an intriguing headline can be enough to give you the subject of your press release.

If something has occurred in your business, you might imagine how it would be described as a headline in your favourite trade press or website. You can then construct the article around it.

For some, this is the most productive way to begin a press release. For others, the headline is something which stumps them.

So instead, the alternative is to write the headline last and begin by mapping out your article, perhaps by jotting down some notes and ideas. Once written, you can return to the headline which may then be easier to construct.

Neither approach is better and it’s very much up to personal preference. However, they equally show the importance of the headline…
Both your target audience – and any prospective publication or website you send your press release to – will read the headline first. If it doesn’t grab them, they won’t read further or publish the article.

It therefore needs to be brief, intriguing and encapsulate the main message or story of your press release.

Simple is typically best. However, if you’re feeling bold, you could try a play on words or a little teaser which hints at the story without giving too much away.

Keep it relatively short (12 words or less) and try to include your company name and that of any important third parties.

Build the story with the opening paragraph

In most circumstances, the opening paragraph – or two – of a press release build upon the headline to explain the story, what it’s about and the parties involved.

It should provide an engaging overview of the most important information.

You can use the introduction to paint a picture, before explaining the thrust of the story. However, this is perhaps a tactic better aligned to blogs and self-published content. Journalists and publications prefer to get straight to the point!

Overall, it is best to use the ‘inverted pyramid structure’. This means presenting the most important information first and supporting details later.

This makes it easier for journalists to extract key details and readers to understand the importance of the article without the need to read to the end – which most people do not!

Write in journalise

When writing about your company, it is tempting to communicate all the amazing things your company does, with lots of superlatives like ‘amazing’, ‘excellent’, ‘fantastic’…

However, journalists don’t write like that. Journalists, publications and websites typically try to be balanced and objective in how they portray things.

To give your press release the best chance of being published – and without being rewritten by a journalist or publication – try to be as unbiased as possible.

You can still describe your company’s successes, innovations, products and service, but try to be descriptive rather than superlative.

Use quotes to your advantage

One tactic which can have two notable benefits, is including a quote (or quotes) from key individuals.

Firstly, a quote can help give your company a more personable feel. Quotes can add a human element and provide insight into the perspectives of those involved.

For example, it could explain why your news is important, such as detailing the difference it will make to your company, your colleagues, your customers or your sector.
Secondly, a quote is somewhere where you can sing your companies praises without fear of unsettling your reader!

Whilst a journalist might not be comfortable using superlatives to state how amazing your work is – it’s perfectly reasonable for your Managing Director to sing your company’s praises in a quote.

If another company or third party is involved in your story – such as a new client or partner organisation – you can also include a quote from them in which they might choose to sing your organisation’s praises too.

However, you must get their permission, so the quote must be run by them before the press release is finalised. It is typically easier to send them a suggested quote and ask for their thoughts, rather than ask them to write something themselves.

Facts and statistics

If you have one, a key fact or statistic is a great way to support the subject of your press release.

For example, if you’re talking about your company’s growth or the size of your market opportunity, a genuine stat adds perspective.

If you are quoting a stat provided by a third party (rather than one from inside your business) it’s important to reference the source.

Avoid jargon where possible

However knowledgeable your target audience, it is best to keep your language simple and avoid jargon.

Even within your target audience there will be differing levels of familiarity and understanding. Journalists who receive your press release may have differing levels of knowledge too.

Where possible, it’s best to focus on the benefits of the news you are communicating rather than the features.

If you use an anacronym or technical term, it can be best to spell it out, at least once.

Keep to a manageable length

There is no strict rule but around 400 words is typically long enough to tell your story and include enough background for the audience. However, 100 words more or less is fine too.

Journalists tend to keep sentences short and avoid more than two in any single paragraph. They also like to structure sentences with minimal punctuation. If a sentence is difficult to read, break it down into bite size chunks.

Towards the end of your press release, you can include some ‘boilerplate’ content about your company. This is typically a short paragraph or two about your company, what you do, who you serve, your history and any standout capabilities or successes.

Include your company web address

This is a tip which can significantly help your website and SEO (search engine optimisation).

At the end of your article, include a sentence which states ‘for more information visit’.

If you’re lucky, the website or publication will include it. In can help drive potential customers to your website and Google and other search engines will see it as a valuable ‘backlink’ which adds authority to your website.

Make sure it is proofread at least once

However excellent your language, most writers make minor mistakes which they themselves become blind to when drafting a press release. Equally, a carefully constructed sentence which you believe communicates something clearly, could be found confusing by others.

If time permits, it is often best to leave an article overnight and give it one final read through the next day.

Regardless, it is critical to have it proof read by at least one other person. Nothing undermines the professionalism of your press release and communications like a grammatical error or typos!

Have your distribution strategy ready

A press release is only as effective as the number of places which choose to publish it.

Before you start writing it, consider who you are going to send it to and make a list of the potential recipients at each publication or website.

When you send it, include it as an attachment but also ‘sell’ the topic in the body of your email. A good sentence to include is ‘We think your readers would be interested because…’ and explain why it is important!

And, don’t be afraid to chase them up if you don’t hear back. Websites and publications receive many press releases, so it could have just been missed!

Getting your press releases and content marketing right

Press releases and similar content marketing are an incredibly powerful way to boost awareness of even the smallest business or organisation.

Often thought to be the preserve of big businesses with big announcements, many trade press and mainstream publications and websites are eager to receive press releases. And, a successful article can often be created from even the smallest development, achievement or comment.

As East Anglia’s leading B2B marketing agency, we help our clients deliver press releases and content marketing which have a profound impact on both their profile and SEO.

If you need any further help, contact us here