How to write a successful press release

| July 2, 2010

I’ve covered this before in a previous post but I think it’s worth revisiting from a slightly different angle. Press releases are still an excellent vehicle for building quality links and – if they catch the attention of the newspapers – driving traffic to your website. Here’s how to write a successful press release.

How to write a press release that’ll get published

  • take a quick sanity check… is your news genuinely newsworthy or is it a paper-thin disguise for advertising your business?
  • write in the third person
  • consider printed newspapers as well as SEO and write accordingly. If a national or local paper, magazine or trade publication picks up your story you’ll get a flood of traffic. I know someone who, having appeared in The Guardian, was shot to relative stardom in her field and is still reaping enormous financial and career benefits. Yes, include keywords and phrases for link building and SEO. But do it so subtly that nobody except an SEO expert would notice
  • headlines are important for SEO as well as catching editors’ and media researchers’ eyes. So create a mighty headline that includes your top key word or phrase as well as appealing to human readers
  • kick off with a powerful statement that explains the subject matter clearly in plain language
  • raise a question – a useful little trick used by many fine journalists and editorial writers
  • answer your own question succinctly and factually, including a quote or two to lend interest, credibility and variety
  • conclude the release with a round-up that reflects on your news and reveals what might happen in the future
  • avoid superlatives outside of quotes and avoid making sales pitches – this is news, not advertising

A killer press release can win you anything from a few lines in your local newspaper to a double page spread in the centre of The Sun worth tens of thousands of pounds. So they’re worth spending time and effort on. The better your releases, the more chance you have of taking your news offline into the newspapers… even on TV if you hit the nail on the head hard and accurately enough.

There’s no reason, if your news is a winner and your release is the best it can be, why it couldn’t be you. If you’re not 100% confident writing your own releases DIY could be a false economy. Get a freelance copywriter on the job.

I’ve written a quick ‘n’ dirty fictional press release example to help you understand press release structure. Here goes:

FREE happiness for everyone – happiness experiment delivers “astonishing” results

The Gross National Happiness index proved that the fewer resources we use and the less stuff we buy, the happier we are. Adding spice to the ongoing saga of establishing exactly what makes us happy, recent research by Brighton-based company Life PLC has revealed exciting new insights into the complex nature of human happiness.  So what’s the story?

Life PLC’s Chief Executive Katie Goldstone explains. “We’ve undertaken a massive worldwide social experiment, across multiple cultures and continents, to establish exactly how much control – if any – humans have over our own happiness. I don’t think I’m exaggerating when I say the results are world-changing. This is huge.”

Life PLC split 20 million willing volunteers into three random groups. Group one acted as the control. Group two were given a series of simple mental exercises designed to help them modify their internal dialogue so it’s wholly positive. Group three were given the same exercises but designed with the opposite intention, to help them achieve an entirely negative frame of mind.

“We were astonished to find, a year later when we started analysing the detailed diary data our subjects handed in, that group two felt remarkably happy within themselves. They enjoyed their lives more than they’d thought possible and were amazed how much things had changed for the better.” reveals Goldstone. “In contrast group three reported being constantly depressed and unhappy with almost every aspect of their lives.”

The numbers are impressive. Group one, the control group, exhibited the usual mix ‘n’ match of emotional states, everything from ecstatic to very unhappy indeed. 98% of group two reported dramatic, significant increases in overall happiness whereas 93% of group three claimed to feel absolutely dreadful almost all the time.

“There’s only one conclusion and the proof is conclusive” claims Goldstone. “With very few exceptions, the key to human happiness lies within us.”

So how will the world look once the news gets out? Potentially very different. When we’re unhappy we’re more destructive, unproductive, intolerant, angry, sad, bored and unattractive. When we’re happy we’re more generous and forgiving, kinder, healthier, more sociable, productive and creative. We even look better.

“A hike in international happiness levels could be so powerful that it results in our solving global warming, ending poverty and putting a stop to war.” concludes Katie Goldstone. “On a grand scale the implications are nothing short of revolutionary. At the moment we’re busy identifying channels to market so we can get this happiness show – the greatest show on earth – on the road!”

Contact details for Editors

Contact Katie Goldstone for details and comment. Email: xxx@xxx or phone: xxxxxx.

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Category: copywriting and marketing

By Kate Goldstone - ()

Originally from Middlesbrough, I lived in Brighton for many years before moving to North Devon. I’ve had a passion for words all my life and this is my twelfth year as a freelance writer. In my spare time I draw, paint, sculpt, carve wood and rock, garden, read, write poetry and enjoy long distance hiking. I sing and play the recorder. I collect modernist paintings, vintage rugs and mid-century German art pottery. I’m a member of The Poetry Society. And I am an experienced volunteer shepherd, a ‘Lookerer’.

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