A press release is an announcement. It announces vital information about a product, service, person, cause, news or event.
To be most effective, a press release should read like news. It should deliver facts.
Here’s what a press release isn’t
Press releases shouldn’t sound like sales copy. If you’re going to do them the right way, there should be no mentions of “best” or “innovative” or “visual feast to the eyes.” Nope, says the Dahlia, your friendly bubble buster.
With the exception of factual matter, press releases should be devoid of any adjectives that smell like hype. You might very well have the most addicting game since Angry Birds, but you shouldn’t be tooting that horn in a press release.
Your annual Save the Beavers charity event might be filled with more fun than a flea circus – but saying something like that in a press release officially designates it as sales copy.
Other people do turn a blind eye to the ‘no-tooting-your-own-horn’ rule. There are press releases that make lots of non-factual claims. I don’t advocate you do things that way.
It’s almost like wearing a string bikini to church. It’s overkill.
Why some press releases get read and others don’t
As I stated earlier, the ultimate purpose of a press release is to announce something in a factual tone. Press releases are meant to read like news.
Yes, that is their purpose. This has been their purpose for many decades.
They should give readers the: who, what, where and when. (Why really isn’t necessary in most cases.) They should inform. They should prompt readers to take a step towards your website where hype is openly permitted.
The problem with putting hype in your press release is that it turns readers off IMMEDIATELY. It’s a big, ole’ pop up ad and the readers brain has a pop up blocker known as the back button on his web browser.
As soon as they scan, “The Three Bears Announce the Best App for Children,” in the headline, they exercise that pop up blocker.
If you’re looking for a bit of love from the local newspaper reporter who probably has a journalism degree and learned all the rules of the road, you’re not going to get anywhere with hype.
If you want your product to be featured on a blog, I can assure you that most bloggers you encounter won’t even bat an eyelash as they pop your hyped up press release to the digital trash file.
The summarized version
Sales copy on your own website = GOOD!
Sales copy in your press release = BAD 🙁
How to write a press release
The basics of press release writing
Press releases should be bare bone factual enough that readers can get the full story in less than a minute.
The headline should tell what the press release is about. And it should be short.
For example: XYZ Company Announces New Widget for Night Time Bike Riders
Or even: Dusty Road Jazz Quartet Playing at the Blue Moon Bar on May 22nd
Or possibly: Save the Beavers Casino Charity Event to be Held on June 3rd
The first paragraph of your press release should provide a synopsis of the story and the rest of the release should slightly elaborate. Slightly as in, 450 words or less, total.
If you write a press release this way, readers will click thru to your website. Why?
You’ve attracted them with simple facts. If I’m a night time bike rider, I’m going to be interested in your widget. If I write for night time bike riders, I’m going to be interested in your widget. Simply let me know about the widget, and I’ll continue the journey.
Once I reach your website you can cater my emotions.