Some of my clients or prospects are sometimes a little shocked when I tell them that a press release can take me five or six hours to put together.
And if you might be thinking the same, I thought it would be a good idea to outline the service I provide when I ‘write a press release’
I need to find out:
What I’m writing about
Who I’m writing it for (target readership/ market)
Interview someone to get some information
Read around the subject
Sourcing an image
This is the bit I love, but I still need to take my time to get it right. I’ve been writing press releases for years and each one needs attention to detail.
Headline – it needs to be punchy, to the point and encourage you to read on. I never, ever start with the headline. It’s always the last thing I write because by then, I’ve got all the info and usually, something just comes to me!
As I’m writing, I’m thinking about structure, chronology, sequencing and taking the reader on a journey that makes sense. They need to flow from one paragraph to the next, understanding subconsciously the link between the two. It’s awful when you read a press release that seems to jump around. First we’re reading about this great invention, then we’re onto learning that there’s an office dog…and we don’t know what the link is.
I like to add a quote from the client or one of their clients to add that human side to it – and this in itself can be tricky to get right. It needs to sound natural whilst also getting the key messaging across too. I usually write quotes for my clients – I call it ‘dial a quote’. They often don’t know what to say so I draft something then they can always take it from there to adapt. Usually it evolves from what I started with but that’s OK with me!
Once I’m happy, I leave it…sleep on it, come back to it later and have a re-read, where I always then start editing my own work.
I also create different versions – for local news, business press and industry media…depending on who we are planning to send it to and where we want editorial coverage.
Once the press release has been sent to the client, there are usually amends to be done. I try to encourage clients to stick with my structure, but wording, tone of voice and the quotes can always be changed a little.
This process can take a little time going to and from, but we get there in the end and we’re happy.
Nothing goes out from me until the client is totally happy with the content.
I usually re-nose a press release to be used as a blog or news item on my client’s website. There are a few changes to make before it can be used on a website – it’s a different audience to the press release.
I usually write some social media posts to use once the press release has been turned into a blog or news piece. All of my clients will have heard me talk about squeezing every last but out of a press release – I wrote about it in an earlier blog! I really do! You can create original content based on your press release, post it to social media and then direct traffic back to your website to read more.
Sending out the press release:
This can take some time because where possible, I write a personalised note to the journalist or newsdesk I’m sending it to.
I would write something different for each, as they are all looking for a different kind of story. This is your most important chance to get it right and make sure they have what they need. If half of it’s missing, they are more likely to hit delete than ask you!
I then check where I’ve sent the press release to and collect any coverage. I would also re-contact journalists to find out if they need anything else – photos, an interview or more information, for example.
And there you go…it’s not a five-minute job, but a carefully crafted one, using 20 years’ professional writing experience.