Are you writing a press release for a client, or trying to get your unique story out in the media? Have you tried contacting news editors with your features and exclusives and get no replies? Well you’re not alone. There are many reasons why a news editor or blogger won’t even consider a request, and in a lot of cases, the fundamental problem is not the news itself, but the way it is communicated.
Whether you work in PR, run a businesses or simply want to generate more publicity about something that has happened in your community, getting the press release formula right will produce better sales, get increased coverage and build new relationships. (This also applies for newswire submissions and paid distribution.)
Film Industry Network receives hundreds of press releases a week, but in a majority of cases, the news isn’t fit to print and there are many issues that reduce the credibility and professionalism of a news story itself. Even today, established PR firms are sending out news stories that don’t include some of the basics or have glaring technical issues that mean editors have to work around the copy just to extract certain information.
The longer it takes to adapt a release, the less likely a news editor is going to make the effort to include it. In most cases, press releases will always get edited, or even re-written to fit within the editorial framework of a site but it is vital for the original copy to make its point clear.
Below you will find 11 ways in which you can improve your press releases, make them more efficient, and most important of all, make them newsworthy:
Get rid of capitalization completely
Capitalization is a big problem in submitted news releases. Including BRAND NAMES, or PRODUCTS littered throughout the text means an editor has to go in there and re-format those words. All major news publishers don’t use capitalized names at all and you’ll see on sites like Variety, Hollywood Reporter, The Guardian and many others, that news stories don’t have movie, product or brand names written in full capitals.
Take out the emotional abundance
Making a press release overly emotional with phrases and words like ‘amazing’, ‘one-of-a-kind’, ‘getting a lot of attention’, doesn’t come across as natural or professional.
The reason for this is that the announcement has to present information in a transparent and honest way otherwise it will feel like an advertisement with little value to readers. Demonstrate the value of the news, and what it means for audiences, not how amazing and unique it is.
Keep the wording tight and relevant
A lot of press releases tend to repeat facts and re-affirm what has already been said further up the page with lengthy quotes from CEOs and partners that can bore readers. Keep it absolutely relevant to what is being announced, and break that information down into clear paragraphs that are easy to digest.
Leave out complicated and clever words unless they are industry terms and when using quotes make sure they provide additional, value-add information for the reader.
Avoid factual overload
Sometimes people can go a little overboard when it comes to highlighting the positives about a new product, event or service. Things like award recognition, and past clients or successes can drain the life of a press release because it goes off on a tangent. Stick to the absolute core essence of the piece of news that is being demonstrated otherwise you may as well be writing a biography.
If an individual or company being highlighted has 15 awards for doing something, don’t write each one down. Highlight the most applicable depending on the news outlet you’re targeting and make sure it has a direct correlation to what is being announced.
Facts are of course vital to back up the substance of a news article but if you start putting complicated statistics in there that are too in-depth, that’s too much information for a reader to take in.
Don’t forget readers will be seeing your news story for the first time, so it needs to get those key messages across without overloading the senses. Leave that level of detail for in-depth features where readers expect more and have the hunger for it.
Leave your SEO keywords at the door
A lot of acclaimed ‘SEO writers’ go overboard on keywords and end up tearing apart the core message of a release by stuffing it with terms just to rank better. That adds no value and makes your content spammy and less readable. If you want to get your press release to rank higher, make its message stronger, which will then attract links to it naturally.
Also, if you are going to be repeating brand names or product names throughout your article, don’t go overboard by referencing them in every second sentence. Keep that in moderation, and stick to your key messages. You can then highlight your brand name, event or service in your closing paragraph.
Reduce your title sizes to 70 characters max
One of the biggest mistakes we often see is overly long press release headlines. Google only displays 70 characters in search, so beyond that, people don’t see the full title, and a majority of news publishers and blogs have shorter, snappier titles in their articles in any case.
Spend time on your headlines and try keeping them as short and sweet as possible. Sites like Buzzfeed or Upworthy are a good education on creating eye-catching titles.
Provide links to high resolution images
Attaching one image is often not enough for a news editor to go with the story and it is best to offer the choice of 3 or more. Providing a download link to a zip file or a folder with images gives publishers more choice. Make sure these are high resolution so they can be resized and don’t send PNGs. (Jpeg is the standard.)
Images can add a lot of relevancy to a release, and make an editor’s job easier. Give them choice, and prioritize landscape photos rather than portrait.
Include embeds only if totally necessary
Don’t embed a bunch of videos that have nothing to do with the set headline of the release. Unless the news is directly about that video it’s best to keep that out and instead, place a link to a channel so that the editor can decide what they want to include.
Give your release context
In the news today, context can boost readership significantly. If your release is relevant to events happening in the world, send that out to publishers that are covering those stories. Give them more content to capitalize on the debate, and your product or service will attain more views because it adds to the conversation.
Reduce background information
If people don’t understand what your release is presenting without a lengthy backstory, then you need to re-write it. Readers don’t have time to discover the history and complexity of your service, company or product. This kind of information is more suited to a website or product page where you’ve already got an engaged visitor and they want that level of information. The news release has to get the message across fast and that first paragraph really needs to give people the incentive to read on.
Provide a maximum of 3 links in the copy
Links should be included, but sparingly. Remember, you want your reader to take a certain action. Giving them too much choice on where to go could undermine your news, especially if it is product related and you want people to go somewhere specific to buy something.
You can strengthen your release by providing links to other news coverage, which will give editors more incentive to check it out, particularly if they can put an angle on it, or use the info to back up what they’re writing about. Also, news publishers (outside of paid distribution) will limit links or remove them completely.
Following these steps you will have a much stronger, more news-friendly release that gives editors an easy way to understand the information you are presenting without overloading them with non-essential gibberish. Remember, top news sites get hundreds of emails a day, so ensure that you copy and paste the body of your story into the email itself. Avoid large attachments because they will often bounce and provide biographical info below (not as part of your main news article). Good luck!
If you would like to get your entertainment news out on our network you can distribute press releases through our syndication service.