Press Release Boot Camp: What You Need to Know

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Pre-Game Strategy

  • 1. Setting up your account. Once you’ve selected your wire vendor, it’s best to set up an account in advance of your first press release—if possible. Remember, new accounts can take up to 24 hours to set up and you can’t send a release without an account, so you want to check that off your list before crunchtime starts.

  • 2. Authorized senders. Whether you’re just setting up an account and providing a list of authorized senders—or you have an account and need to update with a new sender – you can expedite the sender authorization process. If it’s your first time using a wire vendor, provide an example of a past release, or a draft of something you plan to send out so that your PR Newswire support team can understand the type of content you will be sending out and make the best recommendations for your goals. If you’re adding an authorized sender to your account, take a few minutes to review your sender list and make sure it’s up-to-date.

Sportsmanship

Press release content can live forever. At PR Newswire, we have editorial policies to ensure standards for content are met. If your release includes inflammatory or inappropriate content, is sent "on behalf of" an unaffiliated entity, or raises questions of copyright (whether text or multimedia), your release will not meet the standards for acceptability and will not be distributed a delay that can easily be avoided if you keep these guidelines in mind.

Your release can't go into play without...

CONTACT INFORMATION

Be sure to indicate whether this should be made publicly available. If your goal is driving media pick-up, providing a public media contact for easy follow-up is key.

SOURCE COMPANY

If you are confused about the appropriate source, ask yourself, “Upon whom does legal responsibility for this content fall?”

DATELINE

Specifically the location city for your brand.

Let's Talk About Formatting

  • Headline. Grab your readers' attention and make them want to read more. Statistics and numbers make for great headline content and bonus points if it’s enabled for social sharing: 80-100 characters is ideal. Build out detail in your subhead.

  • Lead paragraph. The "hook" for your story, the lead paragraph should be concise and to the point—and answer the 5 W's: who, what, when, where and why

  • Second paragraph. Once you've grabbed reader attention, be sure to add in relevant details and story nuances. Use shorter, attention-grabbing sentences or bullet points to facilitate social sharing.

  • Stand out with multimedia. Visual and audio elements drive audience engagement and interaction…and can help your story and content go "viral" on social channels.

  • Quotes. Establish thought leadership with interesting sound bites from key company spokespersons. Make sure your quotes have a conversational tone—they should sound like something a human being would say—and avoid overused words like "excited" and "delighted."

  • Call to action. Give your readers a next step! Do you want them to visit your company blog or download an eBook? Publishing an infographic that you’d like journalists to pick up? Include the relevant link in the body of your release, ideally following the first or second paragraph.

  • Make it your own. Close every release with a standard (but interesting) company boilerplate.Keep it brief, avoid industry jargon and acronyms and link to your website.

Avoiding overtime

  • Distributing multimedia with your release? Whether it's a photo, logo, infographic or video, you want to be prepared with the right file type and quality—a bad or low quality photo can delay your release distribution as you find a replacement. A central space to host multimedia content can help ensure you have the right content when you need it—PR Newswire's Media Studio provides galleries for you to organize your photos, logos, infographic, video and audio files by project, file type, etc.—whatever works best for your team.

  • Targeting a multicultural or international audience? If your release requires translations, you'll want to build some additional turnaround time into your schedule—before your targeted release date and time.

  • Adding a visual? Be sure to have your caption ready to go, and if you’re selecting a distribution option that includes Times Square, draft a headline to showcase on the display.

  • Including a graph or table in your release? Attach the original Excel or Word file.

  • Want your news to stand out? Make sure to schedule your distribution to avoid market open and close (for the U.S. 9:30AM and 4PM ET) to avoid getting lost in the shuffle.

  • Is your company publicly traded? Include the ticker symbol so it's easily found on financial sites.

Don't Get a Penalty Card

A note on linking:

Be selective with your linking practices. Your release should have one main action you are driving readers to take–not seven options to split their attention and negatively impact you in search indexing. Over-linking can also add time to your release processing, as each link has to be checked.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: ALEXA HOFFMAN

Alexa Hoffman is PR Newswire’s product manager for US distribution, a curator for @prnlgbt, and a former manager of Customer Content Services. Follow her on Twitter at @auth2b.