In my job as the editor of this website, I read a lot of press releases. And I ignore a lot of press releases. I ignore some press releases because the content doesn’t work for this publication, but I ignore just as many because the writing is convoluted and terribly boring. Read on to avoid common mistakes and learn how to write a press release that will trounce the competition.
The most important thing to consider is that my fellow journalists and I want to write and publish the article about your company as quickly as possible. Why? Well, we’re busy. But we also want to get ahead of our competitors with the news about your company. If you can make it quicker and easier for me to turn your press release into a news story, I’m much more likely to choose your topic. Here’s some tips on how to do that.
Think carefully about your headline.
Journalists receive a lot of press releases in real time. This means that our inboxes are always stuffed with press releases and we’ll only see the first few words of your headline. You want these words to grab our attention. Don’t waste space by including your entire formal company name or empty adjectives in the first few words of your headline.
No: Redbud Holding Company LLC announces…
Yes: Redbud to merge with Cannatiera
This attention to messaging should apply to your entire headline. What is your story? Why would anyone want to read it? Summarize your point in an action-packed sentence. If possible, use a powerful verb. (For example, avoid fussy verbs like “announce.”) And avoid being overly wordy or specific–you can get into the details in the body of the press release.
Include compelling images.
Web editors waste a lot of time looking for images. If you can save us time and money by providing a compelling image, you have a huge advantage. Plus, press releases with images stand out and draw the eye.
Provide writers with an angle.
Unless you’re an industry rockstar, Company X releases Product Y isn’t a compelling story on its own. If your product is the first of it’s kind–that’s a story. If your business is owned by an equity candidate–that’s an angle. Isolate the story-worthy aspect of your announcement and tell us what sets you apart. It could be something big (you’re donating 5% of your profits to a program that provides mentorship to equity candidates) or it could be something small (a clever idea for reaching out to the cannacurious), but give us something to work with.
Include short, zingy quotations.
Most press releases are peppered with quotations from CEOs that sound like they were written by advisory boards–not spoken by real humans. As a writer, I don’t want quotations that are clunky, long-winded, and choking on jargon. I want the kind of quotation you see in fun magazine articles–something zingy, memorable, and informative. When I see a good quotation in a press release I’m much more likely to convert the press release into an article.
No: “At Redbud, the ongoing success of our company is predicated on our comprehensive ability to validate and verify the specifications and schematics of bulk customer requests and provide custom sustainably-produced white-label products at competitive prices that will allow our clients to compete in the rapidly emerging and exciting THC topicals marketplace,” said Jarvis Snockland, CEO of Redbud.
Yes: “We truly listen to our clients and customize accordingly, and that’s why we’re the best white-label producer of THC topicals.”
Yes: “We put a lot of thought into developing stand-out products, and that’s why we’re killing it.”
Minimize self-serving language.
Yes, I know you want to make your company and product sound great. But I don’t want my article to sound like advertising. So when I rewrite this press release, I’m going to go through and eliminate all the superlatives. But if I see too many adjectives in my initial read-through I may abandon your project altogether in favor of a shorter, snappier press release. Remember—time is of the essence.