Writing Online Press Releases that Get Noticed
I read a press release written by a colleague who asked if we would submit their story for them over the newswire. The release was missing quite a few key ingredients and was formatted “old-school” style. We could send it out, but knowing that 288,000 press releases were issued over the Business newswire alone last year, it would have been a disservice to them because they would have experienced little pick-up. I thought it might be helpful to offer some pointers for others looking to write their own releases; a short list of “do’s and don’ts”.
When writing an online release, you’re writing for two audiences: the people searching for your business or services and the search engines that generate content and bring it to those people. So format the release accordingly.
1.) Bring your news to life with video, photos, audio and graphics. Photos reach up to 46 million Photobucket users and videos are exposed to 100 million YouTube viewers.
2.) Include live links to any website. Every release should include a destination.
3.) Include social media bookmarks and tags to tap into social directories (i.e. Digg, Del.icio.us) – there are nearly 50 to choose from.
4.) Have an options section that allows users to email, print, add to their RSS feed and more – directly from your release.
5.) Improve navigation to your site with keyword clouds for relevant topics.
6.) Include your website and encourage readers to click through.
7.) Use active verbs; they bring a press release to life.
8.) Grab a reader’s attention quickly and make them want to learn more with a strong headline.
1.) Use all capital letters to emphasize anything.
2.) Have grammatical errors. Proofread everything.
3.) Have a lack of content and substance. Make sure your information is timely and newsworthy. Will someone else find your story interesting? Why should anyone care?
4.) Use advertisements or promotional/fluffy language.
5.) Hype. Stick to the facts and don’t sensationalize.
6.) Include the words “you”, “I” or “we” outside of a quoted statement.
This is by no means an exhaustive list, but it is a good starting point. Begin putting these elements in your online press release and watch your pick-up increase.