by Laura Michelle Thomas
What’s the secret to writing a press release so good that an editor can copy and paste it directly into the newspaper? Write like a reporter. Find out how your topic fits into the current conversations going on in the news, then give your reader the facts, just the facts.
You can’t be lazy when you are writing a press release. Just because a company or individual says the topic is newsworthy doesn’t necessary mean that it is. When you are handed the assignment of writing a press release on a company’s newest product or service or research breakthrough, you have to slough off the in-house hype and find the meat of the story if you want to get past an editor’s critical eye.
If you’re not sure how to find the meat, that nugget of the story that really might appeal to a newspaper’s audience, try scanning the daily news to see if there is anyone else talking about a problem or issue that is related to the product or service you are writing about. When you find it, use the key words associated with the broader issue in your title and first paragraph.
Once your introduction is firmly wound around a nugget of topical, newsworthy conversation, you can give the facts (who, what, where, when, why, how) about the product or service. Don’t forget a serious-sounding quote and a call to action that is almost invisible. You will never get past an editor if your press release is pure sales copy.
I have had the greatest success simply closing the article with a statement like, “For more information, please visit www.company.com.” I write press releases constantly and my success rate is pretty high. Most of my releases are copy and pasted directly into newspapers.
What I enjoy most is the challenge of figuring out how to make something that happens everyday in business seem newsworthy. Now that I think about it, the secret to writing a great press release is not just writing like a reporter. You also need to be extremely artful in how you frame the topic of the release, as artful as a fiction writer.