Copywriter’s Guide: How to get your press release read

Copywriter’s Guide: How to get your press release read

If you use press releases as a way to draw attention to your new product or service, business news, or events, then one may assume you want it read. Here are some tips from the perspective of your friendly, neighborhood editor.

Incite interest

Write an awesome headline. Make sure it’s edgy yet informative and get me interested in reading about your news. News isn’t typically fun or fashionable, but it doesn’t have to be a snoozefest. If it’s worthy of sharing, then it’s worthy of a little bit of thought on your part.

Make sure you include all of the information that you’d like to convey to our readers (see Copywriter’s Guide: Submitting events for a list), and if you’re sending it in an email, send it in the body, not as an attachment.

One page, no fluff

If your press release is taking up more than one page, you’re not doing it right. Pull out the fluff, hone, and rewrite it until all the exciting stuff fits into a concise a paragraph or two.

Save all the rave reviews and long-winded quotes for your web site. We’d rather have the facts.

If you leave out relevant information but leave in fluff, your press release will be tossed. Click To Tweet

Any required boilerplate lawyer speak can be bumped down to the smallest font and jammed at the end. We don’t read it, anyway.

Stop the Spray and Pray

Do you send the same press release to every outlet, even if their readers couldn’t care less about you or your so-called news? How good are your returns?

This will take a tiny bit of extra work, but you’ll see the difference in your response rates: Try writing to each outlet as if you know what their readers…well…read. Go crazy and pick up a copy of the publication and actually try reading it yourself. Does your headline fit in with the other things going on between the pages? No? Then why are you bugging them with something they can’t use?

Just like “one size fits all” t-shirts are a joke, your “one copy fits all” press release is a sham. Every writer knows that different markets call for different techniques. You went to college to learn these techniques. Employ them.

Attachments suck

I’ll say it again as I cannot stress this enough:

Paste the text in the body of your emails!

If you’ve crafted the perfect press release, you want it read, right? Then copy and paste the whole thing into the body of your email. Do not simply attach it with a note telling us to open it. That’s lazy and unprofessional and leaves you wide open for errors, if we bother to even read it. We’d rather not have to open a pdf (or, worse, a jpg) and re-type everything at the risk of misspelling a name, venue, or URL. We’d rather copy that pertinent information straight from your email.

Include the attachment as well, if you really must, but know that we’ll only open it if we have absolutely nothing better to do. (We have lots of better things to do.)  Too many things can go wrong with attachments. In fact, many of our spam filters might be filtering you out already.

Rethink the release

Think of the story of the boy who cried wolf. If you inundate us with boring, routine releases, we’ll become immune. If you want your releases read, make them a special occasion.

Before you plug the latest thing into your PR template, as yourself the following: Is it really news? Is it exciting, new, timely, or at least interesting? Could you have sent a simple email update instead?

Take a step back and see your release as an editor would. Remember, you are writing for and to very busy people who want to help you, so help them!

Mélanie Hope is a professional speaker, author, and coach who travels the world teaching greater communication skills while making as many people laugh as possible.

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