If you're not used to writing press releases, you may find it rather difficult to create a newsworthy release that meets the PR submission site's guidelines while keeping the information engaging, informative, and on-topic. Often, some writers find writing news releases to be difficult due to the journalistic tone, specific guidelines, and determining what type of content is considered "newsworthy," or not.
If you're a new freelance writer desperately trying to get your feet wet in the press release writing niche, the following tips will prove quite useful when developing a plan for your next news release.
Know Your Target Audience
Over the years, I have worked with several newly established business owners who want a press release written and distributed about their business, product, or service. However, what many of these clients often forget is exactly who will be reading their releases. News releases are written primarily for journalists and news reporters, with the exception of certain bloggers.
Create a Catchy Headline
A press release headline should include two qualities: it is newsworthy and it teases the reader enough to make them want to read the full release. Journalists are slammed with hundreds of releases on a regular basis that they need to filter through. Many reporters filter dozens of releases published on various online distribution sites, as well as those directly submitted to their publication office, to select a handful of releases that they feel their editor will approve for publication. In order to stand out among the competition, you need to have a catchy headline that encourages the reporter to continue reading.
Answer the 5-W's
As previously mentioned, reporters have a lot on their daily to-do list in order to deliver valuable news to their viewers and readers. That said, the first paragraph of your release should answer five key questions that every journalist asks themselves:
- Who - Who is the press release about?
- What - What is the newsworthy information?
- Where - Where does this news take place?
- When - When will this news happen?
- Why - Why should a reporter care about your news? Why should they share your news with their viewers and readers?
Many times, if these questions are not answered within the first paragraph of a news release, reporters won't give your release the attention you feel it deserves.
Steer Clear of First-Person Words
When writing a news release, it is important to remember to write in third-person, always. Never use the words "I," "we," "my," etc. The only exception to this very important rule is that first-person terms can only be used within a quote.
Most, if not all, online PR submission sites will refuse to accept a press release if it includes these words when not used within a quotation. It's easy to fall into the habit of speaking in the first-person, especially if you're writing the release for your own company. This is when proofreading and editing your copy prior to submission becomes vital.
So whether you're a freelance writer who has recently landed your first PR writing gig, or a new writer that is determined to expand the services you offer to include news release writing, these simple, yet helpful tips will hopefully give you a general idea of what to consider when writing a press release.