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10 Ways to Do a Press Release That Matters

On a mailing list to which I subscribe, someone just asked how to write a great press release.

Off the top of my head, I jotted out a response. I’m on the receiving end of a ton of press releases sent by various companies because I do a lot of writing. Most are dull; contain no news; announce stuff of absolute insigificance; and really tell me nothing at all. I toss most of them.

So here’s my list:

  • Change the focus. It’s not a press release – it’s a news release. It should have news.
  • Make it new. It should say something your audience hasn’t seen before. They’re jaded. They’ll say ho-hum. They’re bored with press releases. “Been there, done that.” You’ve got to swat them on the head.
  • Get a different droid. Make it different. These folks likely see a zillion PR releases that all look the same, written by PR-droids in PR-factories with tiny-little droid-computers that spew out droid-PR-rubbish. Read what they wrote, and write it differently.
  • Give the facts. Provide interesting tidbits, statistics, factoids. Most people today have the attention span of your average rock, and you’ve got to connect with their innermost-hyperself. You’ve probably got about 5 seconds to get their attention. Use it well.
  • Keep it short. Short.
  • Don’t be dull. Avoid the same old long drawn out boring quotes. “Mr. Peter Didsworth, an expert in our industry, and a distinguished individual of long accomplishment, noted that it was time …. zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.” Every press release has them, and people hate them. Don’t boast.
  • Do the work. Give them the story, nicely packaged and put together. I find that most news people are lazy. Sorry! But if this is so, prepare the story for them — so that they can rip and rewrite. Want to read tomorrow’s news? Go read a press release wire today. It’s all right there.
  • Give them bullets. People love bullets. I think people like bullets these days more than they like sentences. Sentences are just too much work. Bullets are better!
  • Make it fun! Most people are so bored with routine that you’ll hook them if you can make them laugh.
  • Make it personal. Find out the 100 people who really care about who you are, and send it to them. Send it invidually. Personalize each note. Take the time to ‘relationize’ with them.
  • Make it a list of 10 things. People like lists of 10 things. Then add an 11th item pointing this out, which will make people chuckle. If people chuckle, they remember you.

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