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How to Write an effective Press Release

Why write a press release?

Press releases are an significant part of the marketing/communications effort. They communicate the latest news about your company and its products to the media. Journalists rely on well-written press releases for story ideas and information.

News releases on new product developments are essential to journalists for a variety of reasons, the major one being that their readers are interested in the latest product developments in their industry. If you have a new product you need to write a press release. News releases compliment any advertising campaign by keeping your name in front of your market every time you start a new product.

Another name for a press release is a news release meaning that it is new news. Journalists are keenly aware of news releases on a product that has been around awhile without considerable change. You run the risk of angering journalists and having any future release seen as suspect. If you have a product that has been around but has a important new feature, that is news and the journalists will welcome this information.

What are the key Steps to writing a successful news release?

The essential key to writing a press release is keeping it concise and to the point. Editors receive hundreds of releases every week. A tight, well- written release will help an editor understand quickly why your news is important to their readers.

News releases are also good search engine optimization tools. A press release adds content to your site as well as give rich keywords and phrases used by search engines.

Press Releases Are Important!

News releases are an important part of the marketing/communications effort. They communicate the hottest news about your company and its products to the media. Press releases on new product developments are imperative to journalists for a variety of reasons, the major one being that their readers are interested in the latest product developments in their industry.

This document highlights the important steps to writing a successful press release and although there are no guarantees that every news release you write will be picked up by the press, these steps should improve your chances.

Preparing to write a press release

One of the first steps in creating an successful news release is preparation and planning. It is important to create a plan for what you want the press release to complete. You should have basic concepts established prior to writing the news release.

Here are several questions you should answer in your press release:

What is newsworthy about this release? Will a journalist, or more importantly the marketplace, find the news item important.
What makes this product or service attractive to the market?
What problem does it solve solution it provides?
What features of the new product or service will have an force on the market?
What improvements are important to the industry you serve?
Who is your favorite audience?
What do you want readers to take away from your release about your new product or service?
What are the keywords or key phrases used by your clients when searching for your type of product or service?
What does your press release provide: helpful information about a new product or just another offer?
What is the support or validation for the information in your news release?
What is the tone of your press release?
Are you aware of probable pitfalls or areas to avoid?
What do you want to complete with your release: enlarge business, disseminate information, or both?
Does the release's lead (opening) address or answer the basic tenets of journalism:
  o who
  o what
  o when
  o where
  o why
  o how
Once you have written the plan it is time to write the news release.

When writing a news release

The first item on a press release that a journalist will see is the headline. It is important to write a headline that will grab the journalist's interest. The headline should sum up the whole story. It should be concise and descriptive so the journalist receives clear picture of the contents of the news release, and if it is of interest to their readers, they will read the press release. If the news release is on a new feature, or an update to an existing product, state that information in the headline.

After the headline, the first paragraph of the release is the most important. Just as we learned in journalism, the first paragraph should answer the following questions:

In some cases, it may take two paragraphs to complete this, but never more.

The rest of the news release supports the first paragraph. A journalist wants to be informed, not sold. It is important that you are truthful and honest with your statements about the product. The document should offer supporting information to substantiate any claim made. You should keep away from marketing "hype." This can be put in the boilerplate at the end of the press release.

It is important that you avoid unsubstantiated claims in your news release. A journalist judges the credibility of a press release based on the realistic back-up information provided with each claim. It is also important that a release provide the answers to potential questions about your product.

Keep the writing style dynamic and to the point. It is important to connect the busy reader of the release instantly even if the press release is about an "industrial staple." If you are not excited about your product, you cannot expect a journalist to be.

Your news release should rather be one page and no more than two. Realize, most stories about new products tend to be one or two paragraphs in most trade magazines. A release longer than two pages will most likely not be read to the end. Again, as stressed earlier, be brief and to the point.

Avoid the temptation to use industry terminology and jargon. Write in a spoken style using conversational English. You will find a huge number of journalists do not have the same technical background as you even if they write for a trade magazine. While avoiding too much jargon, you want to add keywords and key phrases normally used by your customers to create keyword-rich news release. Include them in the headline and first paragraph of your press release. This will make them more helpful on your site as an search engine optimization tool.

When describing your product remember Feature, Function & Benefit. What it is, what it does and the advantage to the user. This will help the journalist communicate to their readers why they should consider your products. It is important that you offer specific and detailed information.

The last information in a release is about your company and the important contacts as it relates to the product. The company info should illustrate your business and the industries you serve. You need to give a contact name that the journalist can contact for more information. This person should be familiar with all the news in the press release, and should be ready to answer questions. Include the contact phone number, fax, Email address, Web address and mail address. You can also issue your press release on company letterhead to give it a professional appearance.

Lastly, have someone you trust proofread your work. Typos, spelling and grammatical errors will hurt your credibility with journalists.

The following items should be included in the press release packet, whenever available:

Pictures & Images - all pictures and images that aid the journalists and readers visualize you product.
Specifications Sheets / Product Brochures - Any specification sheets or promotional information.

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