Press releases are outstanding marketing tools. In the digital age, press releases are more powerful and potent than ever. I’ve created countless press releases for national and international companies that want to promote everything from rebates and special offers to a brand new cabinet color or exclusive product. Nearly everything can be promoted in a news-worthy press release. They can also be displayed in a newsroom or press area of your company website. Here’s a brief crash course on writing and submitting press releases.
Today, most companies promote their press releases through PRWeb, PRNewswire and similar services. These companies charge quite a bit to get your press release published on major channels like Google News, so you need top-level text to make the investment worthwhile. Here’s a fun mock press release that we’ll use as an example. Let’s start with the opener.
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: [This is a classic press release opener that will appear in your original manuscript or a document on your website. It may also say HOLD FOR RELEASE UNTIL: xx/xx/yyyy if you're promoting a date-sensitive offer.]
The Devil’s Back and Live on YouTube Thanks to Paranormal Pulp. [Your headline must contain the company's name. Subheads can be used if desired. Google only displays the first 60 characters, so keep it short and sweet.]
[Below is the dateline, which appears at the beginning of any news story. Unless you're in a large city, the state should be included. Some outlets may use abbreviations like Tenn., so plan for some slight changes in the location depending on which PR company you're using. The location and the date are separated by em dashes (a typesetting term for large dashes equal to the size of wide characters like M.) Most versions of MS Word will create an em dash if you insert two hyphens and then type a word]
Nashville, Tennessee ─ April 25, 2012 ─ Someone has found the cloven hooves, the serpentine tail, the gnarled horns and the bad attitude that the Devil is known for, and they are wearing them well.
[Your opening paragraph should be a brief summary of the five Ws. Who, what, why, where, when. This is your chance to grab the readers' attention]
The man of legend they call Lucifer, Mephistopheles, Beelzebub, Satan and many other names has recently made a shocking reappearance after a century-long or perhaps millennia-long sabbatical. This major breakthrough was noted after reports were made by one intrepid journalist who is only known by the name “Constant Jay.” No one knows why the Devil picked this time in the world’s history to make such a lurid resurgence, but he surely is back, and he is bad-er than ever.
[Subsequent paragraphs should explore the finer details. Press releases must be written in a third-person format. Any first-person references to a company as " we" and second-person references to customers as " you" must be contained within a quote from a company representative.]
Repeated attempts to reach Constant Jay have been unsuccessful. It’s suspected that the journalist who is currently embedded in hell is unable to reach cell tower connections while underground. This minor connectivity issue hasn’t stopped the Devil from disseminating his message on the popular video-sharing site YouTube using hell’s T1 connection. It appears that the Devil in his current incarnation has a fascination with pop culture fads. Aside from his blatant use of YouTube, the Devil is an avid fan and participant in the music scene and in literary circles.
The Devil’s first overt message appeared on YouTube in mid-April approximately two weeks ago. During this broadcast, the Devil wove rhymes and lyrical rhythms in the style of Tupac Shakur, Young MC and the industry’s greatest icons. Due to the apparent success of this inaugural work, a second piece of literary genius was posted several days later in the form of an open-mic poetry reading, which allowed the Devil to put his innumerable problems and personal issues out front.
YouTube isn’t just easy to use. It’s easy enough for a mythical creature of evil and no known technological knowledge to master in a few short weeks. The Devil’s most recent post included a stand-up comedy routine focusing on his pet peeves and worst regrets. There’s no word yet where Constant Jay is reporting from and when he’ll be back to tell everyone about his adventures. Until then, the world will be waiting anxiously.
[Your paragraphs should be arranged according to importance with the least important details being in the last paragraphs.]
About Paranormal Pulp [Your final paragraph should be a boilerplate about your company Most press releases should be between 400-500 words.]
Paranormal Pulp is the brainchild of a professional storyteller, freelance writer, aspiring screenwriter and award-winning poet and fiction author. Smith’s work has appeared in newspapers, literary journals, national publications and magazines. He received the University of Tennessee Award for Excellence in Fiction for his series of short narratives, and he attended the U.S. National Poetry Slam after touring the Southeastern poetry slam circuit. He has 20 books of poetry, dozens of short stories and many horror books and flash fiction novellas.
Contact: [Contact details should follow this format]
Contact person, title
[Three pound signs mark the end of your document. This also creates a hard page break in MS Word.]
Press releases are ideal for promoting these particular news-worthy topics.
New services and offerings
Bad press releases are certainly out there. To remain as credible as possible when using paid press release distribution services, it’s imperative to have professional content that is written in a non-promotional and news-worthy manner. When press releases are used in the right way, they can be very beneficial. If you over use them on topics that don’t qualify as news, the effect can be less than stellar.
Here are a few resources for writing and distributing your press release.
Media College has an educational press release template that explains how to properly format a press release in a simple, easy to understand way.
Distribution giant PRWeb has an in-depth 19-page white paper that has quite a few tips on creating press releases. One warning. Although PRWeb “allows” you to sign up for a free account, they have a very aggressive sales rep system. You’ll get a lot of sales calls from a personal rep if you register.
Remember, if you’re paying $90+ to get your PR published, you should invest a little bit to hire a professional writer. Content mills cannot be trusted with pieces like this. I’ve had many clients complain that they received regular essay-style articles from other writers when they ordered press releases from these sites.
I hope this guide helps you create more effective press releases that deliver results. As always, feel free to share your comments and experiences with press releases.