A Press Release Writing Service Brings Dead Copy to Life
Every month or two someone writes a post announcing that press releases are dead. In these obituaries, writers claim that press release distribution services take a business’s money to post press releases all over the web, creating duplicate content and incurring the wrath of the Panda. Why hire a press release writing service to create content that doesn’t yield results? Let it die and move on to social media, blogs or paid content, they say. The people who are dancing at the press release’s gravesite do so because well-written press releases haven’t boosted their sites’ SEO as they’d hoped.
They’re disappointed. They’re mourning. But they’re also guilty of a crime. They’ve warped and beaten the press release to improve SERP and in that sense, they’ve killed it.
A press release is dead on arrival as an SEO tool. As a public relations tool? It’s still alive and kicking, but you have to treat it respect that the old workhorse deserves. Groom and feed that reliable old mare and you’ll find that she can trot out your story and garner you media coverage for your business.
Stop beating the press release to death
Let’s treat this as an opportunity to bring your press release back from the dead The fact is, your terrific marketing skills are what’s killing your press releases. You’ll have a better chance of attracting media attention if you fix these common issues:
- Your audience is all wrong. You’re writing for journalists, not the general public who might find your press release from organic search. Lose the adjectives. Follow the AP Stylebook. Use print-style headlines, ledes and nut ‘graphs. Make sure your back-up quotes bring new information to the story. Sound like a journalist or deal with the recycle bin. There is no middle ground.
- Your press release is dead because it isn’t newsworthy. No one cares that you’ve shaved a week off of your turn-around time for new orders or that you’ve built an addition to your building. To be newsworthy, your press release must contain information journalists care about. Their job is to produce column inches or footage. Your product’s new packaging isn’t something that will sell papers or attract viewers. Your press release should meet one of the following criteria:
- Timeliness. It’s nearly election day in the United States, so if your company’s product is an accurate voting machine, you’ve met the timeliness requirement. Winter is around the corner, so if you have a novel way to remove snow, that’s timely, too. If you’ve produced the next big Halloween costume, you’re too late and not timely at all.
- Proximity. Let’s say your business is offering a free shuttle service for people to attend the Packer’s game. You hire a press release writing service to publicize the service and then distribute it to sports reporters across the country. The sports talk station in Atlanta isn’t going to air your announcement because your service isn’t near them.
- Significance, impact. You might be really excited that your widget manufacturing plant has installed the new Acme Widget Enhancement System 3000, but unless you figure out why a journalist might care, your news isn’t newsworthy.
- Human interest. If your Acme Widget Enhancement System saves lives, you’ve got yourself an angle. If your company is hosting a benefit for the animal shelter, that works, too.
- Novelty. Reporters love the latest, greatest, cutting-edge gadgets and technology. If that’s what you have, hire a press release writing service. You’ll receive coverage from tech-hungry journalists who hope that you’ll give them some samples for review purposes.
- Prominence. When your business wins an award, it’s time for the press release. If famous people use your product or scientists endorse it, hire a press release writing service and include quotes from those people.
- You’re a lot of work. If you’re lucky enough that a reporter opens your press release, you have just seconds to catch that person’s attention. If your format is incorrect, your contact information isn’t easy to find and your style is cumbersome, a reporter will find it too difficult to use your press release. So, make it easy for your target journalist to use your well-written press release
- Facts. Construct your lede around 5w + H. When you quote someone, provide the person’s title and years with the company. Infuse your story with as many facts as you can to save the reporter time, but don’t include so many that your press release is dead and unreadable.
- Style. Write your press release with the inverted pyramid in mind, so the reporter doesn’t have to search around for facts and quotes.
- You’re selling something to a reporter. Reporters aren’t buying your products or services, so drop the pitch. Your tone should be free of editorialization and sales speech. If you close with a call to action, an irritated journalist might block your email address.
- You’re pleasing your boss, not writing news copy. It’s tough to write a press release for a person who expects the content to be fawning and not factual. If you want a dead press release to attract attention, go for flattery. If you want an effective press release, stick to straight news.
Distribute the press release to a targeted audience
If you’re putting the time, effort and expense into drafting or hiring a press release writing service for a newsworthy event, then you should spend the extra few hundred dollars for an online press release distribution service to spread it to news organizations. Keep your expectations low, though. It’s doubtful that news organizations will pick up even a well-written press release and you might just receive a small bump in online traffic.
“A press release is dead on arrival as an SEO tool. As a public relations tool? It’s still alive and kicking, but you have to treat it respect that the old workhorse deserves.”
Your best bet is to hire a public relations agency to handle distribution to local or targeted media. They have the experience and the contacts that will help your press release stand out from the crowd. However, if you have time, ambition, a few bucks and a reliable high school student, you can distribute your press release yourself with some success. If you’re in charge of an event for a small, not-for-profit group or start-up business, this is the distribution method I recommend:
- Hire a reliable high school student. Ask your neighbors or call the local high school and speak to the business education teacher. You need a kid who can go online and create a spreadsheet of local media outlets and their key personnel. Include the news director, station director, programming manager, section editor (business, health, etc.) or news producers and reporters. Record the names, phone numbers and email addresses for these people and pay the kid $50 for her trouble.
- Target reporters. Decide which people on the list should receive your press release. Do not send a mass email and make sure you bcc anyone on the email list.
- Email the press release. Send your press release two weeks in advance of the event, then follow up with a shorter news release a week before the event. Do not attach your press release to your email; instead paste the text in the body of the email. Your email subject line should not use the words press release. Instead, use a catchy email subject line. It’s useful to address the recipient by name and mention something like, “I read your article on the new development in the business district last month and thought you might be interested in our company’s work to support the neighborhood around our headquarters.”
- Follow up with a phone call. If you have a reporter in mind that you’d like to cover your event or your news item, give that person a call. Chances are, the reporter didn’t read your well-written press release. Don’t take it personally; offer to send it again and tell the reporter you’d be happy to arrange a tour, interview, product demonstration or ticket to your event.
- Deliver the press release in person. It’s OK to stop by the newsroom and drop off a press release in person. Meet the receptionist and ask which reporter usually covers a news story like yours. Ask to meet the reporter or editor so you can introduce yourself. Tell the reporter you’d be happy to serve as a resource about your field or industry. You’d be surprised how that personal touch will earn you media coverage that an emailed press release by itself would not.
Press releases aren’t dead. They’re a great public relations tool.
Hire a Press Release Writing Service for Best Results
As Steve Cody points out in his excellent piece about other uses for press releases, the press release goes beyond media coverage. Post that press release on your business’ media page and you give your business legitimacy. Send it to your customers and establish how relevant and innovative your business is. Gather them up at the end of the year and write your annual report. Hire a press release writing service and use the press release as a public relations tool and you’ll see results. Just don’t expect it to cure your SEO issues or garner instant media coverage.
If you’re considering hiring a press release service for your business, you’ve come to the right place. We’re not just writers, we’re journalists and we know how to write a press release that can give you and your organization the best shot at media coverage. Contact us today to find out how your business can benefit from a well-written press release.
Press release revivialist
Diane has written hundreds of press releases and filled skating rinks, lecture halls and convention centers with crowds garnered as a result of announcements for public and not-for-profit events. She believes in the seductive power of well-written press releases and has faith in journalists on deadline. Her colleagues love a good story, especially one that can be retooled without shame from a press release and a quick five-minute interview. Bless ‘em.
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