Everyone wants to know the secrets of how to write a press release that gets read. Reviewing releases this week I was reminded of the ONE reason why ninety-nine percent of press releases fail – they bore people to death. The number one turn-off for any journalist is a press release that doesn’t get to the point fast

The surest way to get your press release to the trash bin, deleted or ignored is to ramble on while the journalist wonders; “Why the hell am I reading this?”  Here are five tips to make sure your press release gets read:

  1. Grab attention with a headline in 8 words or less ~ I recently saw a headline that was three lines long.  If you can’t grab interest in 8 words or less, you are simply not interesting; in fact, you’ve lost them at hello. It’s ok to have an explanatory subhead, but the first few words have to grab attention.  Besides that, a long headline doesn’t show up in wire searches because they are truncated, so make sure your power words show up at the beginning of your phrase.
  2. Don’t bury your lead  ~ The first line of your press release needs a powerful concise lead (one line) that tells the journalist what you want the article to be about or a story angle. In other words, why would their audience care. Too many do-it-yourself press releases start with blather about someone or the subject. A press release is a teaser that entices them to call. It tells the basics of who, what, where, when, and why, but doesn’t tell a whole story. Sometimes it makes outrageous statements that challenge the journalist or creates controversy to get noticed. It gives a lead for a story line, an enticing quote and basic information.
  3.  Focus on ONE message ~Too many press releases try to do too much, presumably to save money. Let’s say you want a press release to create media buzz for book promotion. You can make it about your key message, launch  and/or controversy, but don’t throw in the kitchen sink. For instance, plugging the launch of a new new program, contest, or blathering on about award accolades, will only distract from your message. It’s much smarter to do a series of press releases instead; you’ll get more attention and credibility.
  4. Keep it short,  less than one page, 250-400 words max. ~ You’ve got 10 seconds or less to grab attention, that’s shorter than an elevator speech.  Journalists don’t have time and they see hundreds of releases. So if it looks long, heavy with text blocks, they won’t bother reading it. Make sure you get to the point fast with short sentences and short paragraphs, like a newspaper article. White space means clear headed and easy to read, so it’s more likely they’ll be tempted.
  5. Don’t make it about you, make it about their audience ~ If your release talks more about you than your topic, it fails. You might think your story is interesting, but it’s not about you, it’s about what you can do for them. Most journalist will scoff at shameless self-promotion because they are not interested in doing a puff piece on you. Truth is, no one really cares about who you are or your accomplishments unless you’ve just set a record.  Your bio should be a short footnote at best.Instead, give them a reason to want to write about what you do and what it means to others, i.e., solve a problem or have an opinion.  Oh, and don’t ever proclaim yourself to be a “renowned” or “acclaimed” or a “world-wide” expert unless you have the clips and media profile to back it up; journalist will roll their eyes just like everyone else.


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Want to re-publish one of our articles on your e-zine or blog?  Feel free to do so as long as you link to this site, let us know where and when and be sure to include credit with this blurb:  Stephany Crowley, is a Strategic Marketing Communications Specialist, Media Coach and the founder of GetMorePublicity.com.  For nearly 20 years she’s worked with entrepreners, small medium sized businesses, and prominent politicians to refine their public image and lazer-focus their marketing message to attract the right target audience. 


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