I’m going to hold my hands up and admit that I used to dread writing press releases. Writing them means generating click-worthy headlines, punchy content, and they MUST be newsworthy. After a short while, garnering tips for writing a press release made my life easier.
Although I’ve been working as a copywriter in Wales for eight years, I’ve only spent the last three writing press releases. As such, my tips for writing a press release are sort of mid-level. Here are the approaches my clients seem to love:
Newsworthy headlines that you would expect to see in tabloids
Businesses and individuals worldwide want press releases on all kinds of subjects.
Some of them are easy to write about. For example, I recently wrote about a smartwatch that can detect atrial fibrillation and other arrhythmias. It’s the first of its kind in the UK.
On the more challenging side, there was a press release about a supplement that’s sort of meh. Although I found it interesting, encouraging a broader audience to do so is challenging.
The person you’re writing for will want to make sure that their target audience clicks through to the press release to see what their product is about. As such, one of my best tips for writing a press release is to work hard on your headlines.
Here are some ways to do that:
- Play around with a headline generator tool; For example, the one at Impact
- Look at winning headlines from other press releases; When I need a few examples, I try heading to PRWire to see what’s happening over there.
- Write out three or four headlines; Then, step away from your press release and return to pick the one that stands out the most.
Remember, your press release’s ability to attract the attention it deserves hinges on that headline. But, there’s more work to do yet.
Two to three sentence paragraphs only
Depending on who I am writing for, my clients may command certain paragraph sizes. For example, while working for Internations and writing expat guides I would keep paragraphs long and brimming with information. More recently, while writing for ModelCo, my paragraphs were short and punchy.
Press release paragraphs should always be short and punchy. The aim is to generate excitement, achieve brevity, and deliver information in enticing bursts.
While some sources state that a paragraph should contain no more than five sentences overall, others will firmly go with one to two. Oh, and you need to keep the word length below 20.
One of the best tips for writing a press release: make it sensational
Everything else that hits the headlines does so because it generates a sense of sensationalism. For example, Britney Spears’s fans would have been far less interested in her everyday haircut versus her 2007 head-shaving incident.
As a freelance copywriter, I do find bringing sensationalism to every press release I write a little challenging. To work past that challenge, I tend to focus on the audience I am writing for. It’s rare that you’ll write for a generalist audience when crafting a press release, so keeping the target one in mind is key.
Another example from my own line of work: I recently wrote a press release on a deal an Australian man struck with Ford to produce electric golf carts at a cut-price rate.
While this is hardly newsworthy for a tabloid, it is of great interest of those working in the automobile industry. Why? Because the deal was exclusively Australian and played on a little-known piece of history regarding Ford and the development of one of its earlier trucks and an Australian farmer. Suddenly, with the exclusivity and a dash of history, the press release becomes newsworthy.
For inspiration, turn to sites such as PR Newswire
As a freelance copywriter, I love turning to PR Newswire to see how others approach their press releases. I’m not stealing ideas, per-se, I just love to see how they phrase their headlines and space their photos.
The site allows you to make industry-specific choices when it comes to checking out releases, so click through them accordingly. Once you get a flavour for the headlines, the format, and how they flow, you can start writing yours.
Oh, but if you’re struggling, consider hiring me instead.
Honesty disclaimer: This post may contain affiliate links. If it does, they’re only ever linking to products and services that I have used myself. I don’t do sponsored posts, I just like generating a little extra income. Thanks for understanding!