If you’re like me, it doesn’t matter how many press releases you’ve written or how many templates or tricks you have to make the process faster, every release starts with a fresh slate and a lot of questions.
From “What am I writing about again?” to “Is this the best word to include in this sentence?” there are several questions that can go through the head of a PR or marketing pro tasked with writing and editing press releases.
In our distribution checklist Six Questions to Ask Before Sending a Press Release, we cover the basics of formatting your content for promotion.
However, before you can consider sending out your release, you need to determine what story you’re going to tell. Here are some common questions and tips to help.
Who cares about my press release’s story?
Knowing who cares about your brand’s story (especially the specific aspect you’re distributing content about) is a major first step in planning your press release’s strategy.
Each brand has multiple external audiences—such as investors, news media, influencers, customers and prospects—to consider when writing a press release. Take stock of all of these groups and consider which ones you will want to take action after reading your release.
It’s also important at this stage to consider the internal stakeholders your press release will serve. Are you trying to excite your product team with a great new campaign that will showcase their hard work? How will your news announcement or content distribution impact customer-facing staff?
Noting who is invested in your news, and subsequently the success of your press release, will give you context for how it should be written.
Why should people care?
As an advocate for your brand, you’re called on to care deeply about everything that happens to and within the brand. However, that internal excitement doesn’t always guarantee an equally strong response from external audiences.
It takes effort to motivate people to emotionally invest in your story.
An exercise I find helpful is The 5 Whys. When I sit down to write a press release, I repeatedly ask “Why?” until I get to the root of its story.
The key is in finding the angle that is going to help grab and keep a reader’s attention. The more you think about the “why” of a situation, the more likely you are to identify the press release’s best angle.
Another way of thinking about this is: What can I say about this that my target audience will connect with?
How much “local flair” should I include?
Details are essential to a good press release; however, you do need to know when enough is enough.
Consider whether you’re writing this press release for a niche or broader audience.
In some cases, you’ll want to localize your press release by speaking to the needs or cultural identity of a particular city or region. Similarly, you may want to address the preferences of a specific industry’s journalists and customers.
There will be times, though, where “local flair” can do more harm than good. If your intent is to distribute your news to a broad audience of mainstream media and general interest consumers, you’ll want to focus on the aspects of your story more likely to have far-reaching interest.
Am I writing this in the language my audience speaks?
While this can–and should–be taken literally, as releases must be translated into your audience’s language, it’s also important to choose the proper vocabulary for your audience.
Write for a human audience, and avoid jargon or technical language where possible.
This is not to say that keywords should be ignored. Knowing which words and phrases your audience most commonly use still has value.
You will want to include a few important terms or phrases that will help your target audiences find your release via search. Avoid keyword stuffing, of course, but note that well-placed search terms can boost your press release’s discoverability.
Also note: If you are targeting a niche industry, you should write for that audience as well. Certain terms might be more common among a niche group, and using them will highlight your familiarity with their interests or needs and maintain your brand’s position as a thought leader in that industry.
What can I take out?
There’s no perfect length for a press release: Your release should be as long as it needs to be to tell your story. However, early drafts might include too much or repeated information that should be removed or reworded for clarity.
As William Strunk writes in The Elements of Style, “brevity is a by-product of vigor.” It’s important to be concise in your press release, and editing yourself as you go will help keep yourself succinct.
What am I missing?
With that said, it can be easy to inadvertently omit a key piece of information from your press release — especially when it’s going through multiple rounds of edits with multiple people.
As you work to craft a compelling story about your brand’s news, be sure it answers the who, what, when, where and why of your news and includes a call to action for your audience to take.
Once your release is written and edited for content, grammar, and style, the next step is preparing it for distribution. Download Six Questions to Ask Before Sending a Press Release to ensure your release is newswire-ready.
Author Danielle Capriato is the manager of strategic communications at PR Newswire, where she writes, edits and manages distribution of press releases to promote the PR Newswire brand and content. Follow her on Twitter @dcapriato.
7 Comments on Blog Post Title
Super good information. Formats very but these points help keep things on track.
I’m actually studying PR in school right now. I really appreciated these tips, and they were exactly what I needed to read! It’s easy to lose focus of certain things while writing, but it makes sense why you need to ask yourself the question of "why should people care"? Thanks for sharing this post.
Hi @KylerBrown, I am studying PR too. I guess you could be a great help for me. How could we get in touch ? My email is: email@example.com . Feel free to send me an email.
This is a masterpiece for me. Thanks you prnewswire
Nice information shared thanks .
I think that it is important to learn how to write well. It is really important to take in feedback as well. That is what makes you a better writer.
That’s a very helpful post. Kari! Most press releases are concise at just a page long. The services you just mention are so helpful for me.