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How to Write a Great Press Release

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Ever wonder how two companies selling the exact same product end up with sales margins across the spectrum?

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Ever wonder how two companies selling the exact same product end up with sales margins across the spectrum? The success or failure of a business, organization or event can largely depend on its public relations. A well-written press release can be one of the communication pros’ most successful tools, and though writing a press release isn’t difficult, writing one the press will actually read and use takes some skill.
Selecting Your Slant
A press release is like a pseudo-news story that demonstrates newsworthiness of a particular person, event, service or product. The key to delivering an exceptional press release is to focus on newsworthiness and not promotional jargon. Think like a news reporter and separate the news from the useless buzzwords.
The Format Formula
Once you’ve got your newsworthy slant, you’re ready to start writing your professional press release. The American Marketing Association is an excellent resource that gives a breakdown on the format for press release writing. Here are some of the basics:
• Every press release should start with a capitalized header reading “IMMEDIATE RELEASE” in the left hand corner.
• The headline comes next, and should be written as a sentence summarizing what the press release is about.
• Your first paragraph should start with a “dateline” (the name of the city your press release was issued from) and the date you sent your release.
• Immediately following the dateline is the lead paragraph. Like most news leads, it should be relevant, objective, easy to read and timely. Be sure to immediately address all pertinent information: the five Ws (who, what, when, where and why).
• The body is your next component. This is where your message should be developed. Here are some tips for writing the body to help you avoid common PR blunders:
1. The shorter and more direct your press release is the better.
2. Avoid the first person perspective (I). Use third person instead (he, she, it).
3. Avoid hype-bloated words and phrases like ‘breakthrough,’ ‘unique’ and ‘state-of-the-art.’
• The last paragraph can end with your company boilerplate: A description of your company, its products, services and history. Lastly, your name, phone and email are listed. Three # signs at the bottom of your press release mark the end.
Pitching With Precision
So what do you do once you have your perfectly crafted press release? Decide which publications best fit your topic. Is it something appealing to the general public, or something better suited to a trade publication? Come up with an effective way to pitch your press release to your desired publication.
• If your press release is geared toward an older demographic, then think about a creative way to get the word out there. Use language that fits their demographic — let them know you’re on their level.
• Take time and make sure your pitch sounds natural and genuine.
• Have any additional details or materials the publication may want already prepared.
• And above all else, be sure to give them a story, not an advertisement.
One study showed that there is an 80 percent greater chance someone will recognize a product if it appears in an editorial than if it had no public exposure at all. The more attention you get the more money your business endeavors or organizational do-gooding will generate.

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