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How to Write a Press Release that *actually* gets noticed [Free Marketing Tips]

[Continuing with our fortnightly theme on Free Marketing Tips for Startups/Small Businesses, here is an article to assist you in writing effective press releases].

We get a lot of press releases and often mark them as spam. In fact, if you approach us via a PR firm, chances are that you will not be able to reap the benefit of Pluggd.in connections (read towards the ends of this post, ‘Startups and PR Firms – The Disconnect’ to know why).

For us, an effective press release is one that is precise, to the point and stands up to its promise.

Here are a few elements that makes a press release effective and generates the much needed impact.

Bold Headline

Have a bold headline. Some of the effective Press Releases I have seen are either celebratory in nature [Company ABC Wins <X> Award] or they clearly mention the usefulness of product they are launching.

Do not say ‘Company X launches Y Product’ – this works only if Company X is a well known firm. If you are a startup, instead say ‘Y Product Launched to Help <>’.

Bring in a sense of purpose with the press release.

Donts – Do not mislead using the headlines. You lose credibility.

The Body

Show numbers.

Instead of saying ‘The company has sold this to 2 clients’, say ‘There are 100 installations of this software across 2 clients’. Numbers matter. Everybody loves numbers. Don’t you say wow when social media gurus tell you how many YouTube videos are uploaded every second, how many Tweets are sent every minute? None of those numbers matter, but they create a sense of size.

BIG Numbers bring in a sense of ‘wow! this is big!’, even to small companies.

Donts: Do not manufacture numbers. Do not say ‘100 people browsed the site for 5,65,000 nanoseconds and created 2,000 social footprint..blah blah’.

Provide Information

Great press releases provide useful information that bloggers/journos can simply publish as an article. Instead of thinking like a corp communication person, put yourself in the shows of a journalist/blogger. Most of the times, they will not have time to understand/research your product/service in detail. So have a mercy on them and do a little bit of spoon feeding. Put words in their mouth by providing most useful information in a precise form.

For instance, who is this product for? why would somebody use it? Where is it available etc etc.

Be a Story Teller

Tell a story. Press releases are boring and any media professional will receive atleast 10-20 PRs a day. They do not have time for you, unless you attract their attention.

The easiest way to attract journalists’ attention is to tell a story. Use verbs. Your Press Release has to have some energy and should go beyond the standard quotes, that one often does not notices.

Stick to short sentences (Read How to tell a Compelling Story).

Donts: Do not treat Press Release as a sales pitch.

Bring a Social cause, if possible

This flows with media. Bring in a social/personal purpose for the venture.

Example: Using this our cloud computing tools, NGO in Kolkata has been able to reach out to X people without spending anything in IT infrastructure!.

Donts: Please do not desperately try to create a use case for NGOs/social purpose.

Get Local, if that is a use case

If your service is local, bring a local flavor to the press release. Infact, be very specific about the geography if that’s what your service is all about.

For instance, “this service will help Mumbaikars get exact train timing”.

Launch of new local services will be easily picked up by local newspapers/websites, thus giving you access to the right TG (Target Group).

SEO Friendly

You need to get the right keyword for your press release (use tooks like adwords, trends) and it is advisable to put anchor texts in the press release. Many websites source content directly from PR websites and this helps you in getting SEO juice from other websites.

DONTs – Do not overdo this. Google, still is far more intelligent than all SEO experts put together.

Make it Exclusive (?)

One global technology company always ensures that there is a bit of exclusivity to their product launch. Before the word gets out, they send us password of the page that is supposed to contain the details of the product launch (with a request/embargo to not cover this, before the official announcement).

And they do this with very few selected bloggers, ensuring that there is a bit of responsibility on the bloggers side, as well as an exclusive story that each blogger has just a second after the launch.

If you think a blog/media company is most apt for your press release, make it exclusive for them. We did that with one of our press releases and it really worked out quite well (check our press coverage section).

Misc

– Keep it short and simple. Stay within 400-500 words.

– Always put contact details in the press release.

– Customize your press release according to the publication and its audience taste.

– Do not bore bloggers with same stories as media. One-size-fits-all doesn’t work, atleast not with us.

– Attach logo/rich media with your press release.

– DO not send irrelevant PRs – for instance, of opening a new office, to us. Please.

Conclusion

Press Releases are meant to garnet immediate attention, so the focus should be on ‘now’ and instead of spreading yourself to too many media outlets, it always works to focus on a few who match your audience.

Sidenote: I am not a big fan of traditional PR and I’d really advise you to not get into this trap, unless you really want to. If you really want a focused attention, build relationship with bloggers/journalists and they will be happy to help you in your journey.

Also see: How should startups approach Bloggers?

Question: Best (cost effective) PR agencies in India?