NewspapersPress releases are different from the content you write for your own site. They are designed to encourage multiple publishers to use them. The more enticing and relevant your story is, the more likely the story will be used.

We’re not covering methods of distribution here. This article assumes you are using a PR broadcast service or your own carefully compiled mailing list of suitable publications. We’re dealing here with press release quality.

Get the links right

First, make sure you include a link to the product or service you are promoting. I see press releases telling me a new product is available at a particular online shop, but when I click on the link to that shop I have to search for the product (invariably finding that it hasn’t actually been added to the website yet). The other day I received a press release on email that talked about a product with no link at all, so I had to use Google to find the company it was talking about. Another release I received had the same link four times – two of them being mistyped so they didn’t work. Check you have links, check they work and that they go somewhere useful to the journalist that you hope will publish your story.

Write a story, not a sales brochure

A good press release is written in the style of a publication. Editors know that readers want to be entertained and informed in a valid, impartial and honest way. Writers are short on time so anything that makes their job easier is good. Know the publications you are sending your release to and write the story in the way they are likely to publish it. This means not constantly referring to your product or service; don’t use emotional superlatives or wild claims about how good you are or how much people will love what you are selling.

Any self-promotional claims that are not true or cannot be backed up will devalue you story in a journalist’s eyes. The more your release appears to be journalistic instead of a piece of marketing, the more it is likely to be used.

Write two stories in one

Make sure your press release is long enough to be a full page story. If you only supply two paragraphs of information, it may not be long enough to interest an editor who wants their online content to look meaty. Conversely, some editors may only want to use a short part of your story to go into a briefs section. So, make sure the opening paragraph summarises the most important and pertinent information while telling the whole story, then expand that throughout the rest of the longer version.

Include key information

Make sure you include quotes from people. Name those people and their job titles. Include contact information for key people so a journalist can follow up for more information. If you include facts from an external source, credit that source at the end, in case the journalist wants to verify that fact or explore more information about it.