When you write a press release, remember the dos and don’ts. They determine whether busy reporters cover your story or toss it in the trash.
The top ways to catch a reporter’s eye and avoid the garbage pile:
1. Appeal to your audience.
Like with all writing, consider your reader. More often than not she will be a busy reporter or calendar editor whose inbox is flooded with emails.
2. Give some love to the subject line.
This is the first thing your audience will see, so don’t overlook it. The inverted pyramid starts with the subject line, not the email message. Strike the perfect balance of straightforward and enticing. Save the details for the meat of your release. Let the reader know why she should open your email.
- Lackluster subject line: Announcing Our New Cupcake Flavor
- Better subject line: Rich Buttercream Cupcakes Now Up for Grabs
3. Provide all the facts-fast.
Again, your audience should be in the back of your mind throughout your writing. Your reader is in a hurry to get through endless emails, looking for a reason to weed out the unnecessary ones.
Don’t be unnecessary. Follow this formula: “Here is my subject matter, this is why you should care and this is additional information to make your job easier.” The more well-written the press release, the more information the reporter can pull from it. This means less work, which makes any busy writer happy.
4. Minimize the fluff.
Reporters don’t want to wade through fluff to get to the meat of the release, so don’t bombard them with cheesy, descriptive words. Too often PR pros throw out excessive adjectives that scream “overcompensation.”
Yes, you want to sell your story or product, but don’t cross the line.
- Don’t write this: “These deliciously succulent pillows of sugary bliss will tantalize your taste buds.”
- Write this: “Our new buttercream cupcakes are rich with flavor and sure to make your day more decadent.”
The first sentence oversaturates the reader. The second promotes the product, but uses real language between the sell words.
5. Stick to basic formatting.
Your press release should be stimulating and fun, but remember, you’re writing professional correspondence that not only represents you and your company, but your client.
Keep the format simple. Use a readable, universal font such as Cambria or Times New Roman. Use a default font size, like size 12. And use black type; it never goes out of style.
Tone is important. It’s OK to be enthusiastic, but don’t scream every sentence! One exclamation point does the trick. Use several exclamation points when you tweet “Giants win!!!”
To put it simply, you’re not in middle school, writing a gossip note to your best friend. “Fun” additions such as this *~*, AlTeRnAtInG tExT and colorful headlines have no place in your press release.
Now, go write that perfect press release.
Laura Davis is an account coordinator at The Abbi Agency. A version of this article originally appeared on The Abbi Agency blog.