How To Write A Really Good Press Release

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If you google “write a press release”, you will find many tips. But you can safely save most of them. Because the press release that really excites journalists captivates with a single, important element. And by asking yourself five essential questions before writing.

Do you know what journalists have to say about most press releases?

This: “I don’t read.”

Frustrating right? How many hours do people in this country spend drafting PR texts, and how long do they like to polish them?

All love’s effort is lost. Why?

Let’s take a step back for that. And ask ourselves what press releases are actually used for. How are they used in practice by journalists? (If they open them at all…)

The answer: as an information BASIS.

Not more! Press releases are usually only there to help the journalist to get an IDEA. To provide her with facts that she can do something with – or not.

The vast majority of press releases end up in the digital wastepaper basket unread. Why? I want to be honest: Because press releases are usually extremely boring. Because there is simply nothing exciting in it for journalists.

Unfortunately, the misconception that journalists copy press releases verbatim (or at most slightly shortened and then printed) is still widespread.

But that is almost never the case.

A sentence such as “Please print the attached press release” therefore definitely belongs in the “If you used to do it, it doesn’t work anymore” section.

A journalist uses a press release to get topic ideas. He takes it and thinks to himself:

“Hm, they’re doing something unusual, I’ll give them a call!”

Or: “Hui, he’s bringing an amazing story with him!”

Or: “We should do a service piece on this topic!”

But journalists almost never think:

“Oh, great product!”

Or: “What an innovative coaching approach!”

That’s just not what editors are looking for! So why do most companies still send out press releases praising their product or service, event, or award through the green clover?

Should you now avoid press releases?

No, press releases are a very good way to quickly get attention for your product or service. Press release websites have very high authority, usually more authority than your own website!

Therefore, your press release will be quickly indexed by Google and other search engines and displayed in organic search results.

It is therefore a very good idea to write and publish a press release in order to quickly achieve a large organic reach. But you should always pay attention to which press release service you publish your messages with!

We recommend the service from E-Releases, as this service has a lot of authority and guarantees a high reach!

The price for a press release is a bit higher than with other press release service providers, but you can benefit from the enormous authority!

Press releases can be useful when:

  • you bring a really completely new service/a very new product onto the market
  • your product solves an important problem and is relevant to many people
  • your product or service is very weird and unusual
  • you can contribute something important to a topic that is currently hotly debated
  • you are doing something special at the local level and only target the local and regional media (local journalists still use press releases quite actively)

If any of these points apply to you: Great, go for it!

How to write a good press release?

These 8 steps are necessary to write and publish a good press release:

  • Find something really exciting
  • Save the introduction and get started right away
  • Briefly explain what it is about
  • Let stories ring out
  • Avoid boring quotes
  • Formulate clearly and understandably
  • Contact the right journalist
  • Provide additional information

Step 1: Find something REALLY exciting for your press release

The most important element that your press release needs and that makes it stand out: the first few sentences have to pop. Because if they don’t, the journalist won’t read any further – no matter how hard you try.

After all, you most likely don’t represent a big name, a well-known brand, nothing that would make a journalist sit up and take notice.

So you have to ask yourself: What do I have to offer that not only fascinates my grandmother or best friend, but also many people who don’t know me at all?

Because if you can’t offer anything exciting, you can’t formulate any great sentences.

Ok, what the press release says must be interesting. That makes sense to everyone. And yet most people write things in there that, from a journalist’s point of view, are rather boring. These include, for example:

  • Awards they have won with your business
  • the new store they are opening
  • the book they are about to publish
  • the new CEO they will hire
  • the groundbreaking (coaching) method they developed

If you are one of them, then please don’t misunderstand: Of course, these topics are important to you – and of course not boring at all. But from a journalist’s point of view, things are different. Then:

  • There are hundreds of prizes. It’s not particularly exciting unless you’ve won an Oscar. But then everyone has known that for a long time and then you are in the wrong place here 😉
  • Stores open and close every month. Who cares?
  • Female journalists receive umpteen press releases about new books every month. Unless you’re a best-selling author or your topic breaks an absolute taboo, your message will likely end up in the trash unread.
  • At best, personal details are of interest when it comes to a really large and well-known company. And even then… well.
  • Unfortunately, there are hundreds of other coaches who also find their method unique and new. For journalists, it all sounds very similar at first.

Pretty dumb guys, you might be thinking. But in fact, all the journalists I invite to my courses say they get hundreds of emails every day. So it’s understandable that everything that doesn’t IMMEDIATELY catch the eye is deleted. Otherwise, the work would hardly be manageable.

So before you start writing a press release, ask yourself:

  • What is very unusual or really, really new about what you want to report?
  • Will a problem be solved that affects many people?

Can you report a superlative? (Superlatives are among the signal words that make journalists sit up and take notice)

Here’s a little thought exercise: Imagine you’re standing on a street corner and have to distribute flyers to people. What would you have to shout for someone to stop and take your flyer?

What probably wouldn’t work so well:

“Four-legged friends feel really comfortable in this dog hotel – and master and mistress can go on holiday with peace of mind. Particular attention is paid to healthy nutrition (vegan food is also possible).”

But how about this?

“Florida’s first vegan dog hotel has opened in Neuhausen!”

With this variant, you would definitely get a few curious looks: A VEGAN dog hotel? One of the other would certainly accept your flyer.

You see, and it’s the same with a press release: you have to trumpet something that sounds interesting – and explain and support it throughout the text.

So: what is it that you could shout out to the world? What surprises others when you tell them about your service or product for the first time? At what details do people widen their eyes and say. “What? Really?”

  • Are you the first woman/man to ever win this award? How did that happen?
  • Are you the youngest shopkeeper in town? Then that is much more exciting for the local journalist than the news that the shop now exists or why you opened it.
  • If you’ve written a non-fiction book, see if you can generate ONE super-useful tip from it. The one hack that maybe nobody else knows.
  • Personal details are only interesting when it comes to a VIP. You employed actor Christoph-Maria Herbst? Great, then you should definitely announce that. Everything else is more for industry services.
  • What is the ultimate tip or trick that will really change your (coaching) method? You could name that specifically and that’s what your press release should be about (–> see non-fiction books).

THOSE are the things you should approach female journalists with – and THIS is what your subject line and headline should already suggest!

If you don’t have this clear in advance, you will construct the press release incorrectly. Because you’re going to start with something boring and hide the exciting part somewhere in the last paragraph: “Oh, by the way, I’m the youngest shopkeeper in town.”

In fact, this should definitely be at the beginning of a press release.

That’s why you should be clear beforehand about what you have to offer that is unusual.

It may not be what YOU find most important. Not even what you packed into your carefully crafted tagline. And it’s definitely not what you’re thinking, “But I have to say all that, otherwise it won’t be complete!”

It may be a side issue. One of many features. Something that goes under “I do that too, but that’s not the most important thing” for you.

That could be exciting for journalists – because there aren’t already a thousand other press releases on their desks on the subject.

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Step 2: Skip the introduction and get started right away

Ideally, you have now found something that makes you sit up and take notice because it is new or unusual. This goes in the first sentence of your press release.

I repeat it again: IN. THE. FIRST. SENTENCE.

Just to be on the safe side, because many people overlook something like this and then start again with an introduction that lasts many sentences. Like this:

“Do you know that? It’s December again and you haven’t bought a single gift yet. Let alone an idea. [sitename] solves this problem for you.”

Why is this introduction such a bad idea?

Because nobody is blown away by someone describing a problem that EVERYONE knows. It’s nothing new. It’s not about solving a problem. There’s no hint of anything unusual, weird, or news relevant.

If there is a press release about the opening of a great gift finder webshop, then the first few sentences should look like this:

“Find the right gift immediately: [bestdomainname] analyzes within seconds the search terms that a person has googled in the last two months – and uses this to create a list of gift suggestions for this person. That way, last-minute gift seekers never buy the wrong thing again.”

These first sentences get straight to the point – and tell of something that is really new.

Let’s take the beginning of this press release:

“All of United States Discusses Xenophobia”.

The sentence could be deleted immediately – because there is nothing new in it.

That doesn’t apply to this sentence:

“Now everyone can invite a refugee to their sofa: [yourdomainname] brings together those who are willing to help with refugees in a matter of seconds.”

Can you tell the difference In the second example, something is reported that was not there before? In fact, many make such sentences—but all too often they hide them way too far down in the press release.

By the way: If you want to write about something that you think is new – check how revolutionary your offer really is! Far too many press releases present the smallest details as “revolution”. A nice example from my blog post “These press releases come straight from hell”: “The colorfully swirled fruit gums are also a real eye-catcher on the table”.

Kind of ridiculous, isn’t it? Does that someone think that the design of some fruit gums can “inspire”?

Such press releases repel journalists.

Step 3: Briefly explain what it is about

So you now have the first hit sentences of your press release on paper. The ones that draw attention. Now you need – in a nutshell – background: What is this about? What kind of project, product, event is it, and which company is it about?

You can keep this information factual: who did what and why? The journalist should now “arrive”. He is interested and needs more “feed”.

If there is a current occasion: Great, name it now!

A vegetarian delivery service, for example, will certainly be noticed better in the run-up to the international Veggie Day or when a new study on the eating habits of Germans is published. So be sure to mention such hooks.

In this second step, try to answer the following questions:

  • What kind of product/company/person/event/publication is that?
  • What problem does the product/service/event/publication solve? As? For whom?
  • Why is the information interesting right now?

Stick to factual language and short sentences. This is purely about INFORMATION, wordplay, and creativity are not necessary. You are also welcome to use Bullet Points – that brings clarity!

Step 4: Invoke stories in your press release

Can you tell any story about people?

Is there someone who might be of interest to a journalist because he or she experienced something unusual or went through a transformation? Someone who can tell something emotional?

Here is an example from my course participant Tanya. She was looking for a PR strategy for her event “Your City Is Great”. Tanya told me about teenagers who used to do drugs and now sing. For whom the choir project was the rescue after a divorce. Who battled cancer and felt a few hours of happiness while singing.

Goosebumps, right?!

If there is something to tell, then you have to do exactly that: tell it.

My suggestion: Use bullet points and briefly list a few such stories. Or take a single story and put in the bullet points what happened.

What is the point of such a list? Here it becomes clear to the journalist: Oho, there is not only something to report – but also something to TELL! In the best case, he will then ask you for further details in a personal conversation.

Note: journalists are looking for stories, not product reports!

Step 5: Avoid boring quotes

“The award is a great honor for our work and encourages us to continue on our way,” said company boss Klaus Meier.

“We are very excited about working with our new partner ‘Klangwelt’,” reports Karoline Müller.

“The project is a big challenge, but thanks to our excellent team, I am sure that we will master it,” emphasizes agency boss Kerstin Schmidt.

Can you imagine how SORRY I am reading quotes like this? They give me nothing at all: no information, emotion, opinion. There is always only happiness, which is summed up, emphasized, and noted.

Unfortunately, these are just boring things, completely interchangeable.

So: If you want to include a quote in a press release (you don’t have to – for lone wolves and individual startups this might even seem a little exaggerated), then please one from the following categories:

  • Something surprising is communicated – such as an unusual decision (with reasons)
  • An opinion or evaluation is given (as an addition to what is previously written in the text)
  • Something emotional is communicated, also as a small story

Step 6: Formulate your press release clearly and understandably

Actually, it is obvious that your press release should be worded in an understandable way. But women journalists get messages every day that

  • are written in technical jargon
  • who just don’t get to the point
  • which are way too long
  • who start with completely unimportant information

You should definitely avoid these mistakes. So how do you write an understandable press release?

The best way to do this is to use straightforward language. With that I mean:

  • use everyday language that every journalist understands
  • use as few nouns as possible, such as development, storage, shipment, sustainability orientation, etc.
  • make short sentences
  • make many paragraphs so that journalists can scan the press release for a moment

Before you sit down to the press release, you should think about how to explain your topic in such a way that every journalist does not have to think long. Use simple language, words that everyone knows, even – and especially – when the topic is complicated.

If you hide something exciting in convoluted sentences, the journalist doesn’t even realize that this could be an interesting topic for him.

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Step 7: Is your press release relevant to the journalist you are contacting?

Your press release is important to journalists when it comes to a topic that he or she covers on a daily basis.

That means you have to get the right person. You can’t just write to [email protected], for example, because then

  • your press release ends up in a mega-sized mailbox
  • your message gets lost in 100,000 other mailings, press releases, and letters to the editor
  • the editorial assistant may only look over it every few days and delete unseen

Use special press release services like E-Releases to submit your press release!

That’s why you have to reach the one editor in the editorial office who actually deals with your topic. So if you’re asking yourself, “What is relevant for journalists?” – then it also has something to do with which journalists you ultimately choose.

A business editor will be interested in a different aspect of the topic than a local editor, a culture editor, or an editor from the careers department. Sometimes the topics really fit into several departments – then you just have to find several contact persons.

If you know what is relevant to the journalist, then this information needs to be at the top of your press release.

So you have to be clear about that too before you even think about writing rules or headings.

Step 8: Give journalists a chance to learn more

Finally, a few formalities are needed: your website, for example, which provides the journalist with further information if he or she wants it. This also makes it easier for you to write the press release: You know that you don’t have to write EVERYTHING in it – if, in doubt, the journalist can click on a link and thus delve deeper into the topic.

Here is an overview of other formal requirements for a really good press release:

  • The rule of thumb should be: Keep the press release rather short (no more than an A4 page) and reduce it to the most exciting.
  • Of course, you should not forget your contact details (preferably a cell phone number if you need it quickly).
  • If it’s a book, don’t forget the publisher, number of pages, and price.
  • Of course, the place and time of an event should not be missing (mention it separately at the end of the press release, even if it has already been included in the text).

If you stick to all of these, I promise you, your press release will stand out nicely.

Checklist: This is what makes a good press release:

I summarize again:

  • Think about what exactly is unique or special about what you have to share – and put that at the beginning of the press release
  • Find the right journalist and write to him or her personally. Say right at the beginning of the message or email why the topic is relevant to the journalist.
  • Formulate everyday language, in short, understandable sentences and get to the point quickly. Skip the introduction and let stories ring out instead.

Your press release should meet these requirements so that it does not immediately end up in the digital wastebasket. This makes it interesting for journalists.

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