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Press releases needed?

Dear Textbroker Author,

Sometimes clients request articles in the form of a press release. If you want to write a suitable press release, you have to be familiar with the needs of the editors who will be publishing the news. In brief, these needs normally include a gripping headline, a fitting overall length of the text as well as adhering to certain formal minimal requirements.

Formal foundations for writing a press release

Title- Short, precise and engaging, the title of a press release should encourage the reader to read on. The tone of the headline has to match the business and the news, and it cannot be boring. The discerning editor decides on the basis of the headline if the rest of the article should even be read! Example: Would you read the rest of an article if the headline was ”Lola’ Patio Chair cushions, new in stock’ or if it was ‘Sit with ‘Lola’- A new design for your patio chair cushions’? But be careful- depending on the product, finding a gripping headline may require a lot of tact!

Subtitle- Detailed subtitles are not obligatory, but they are instrumental in conveying the core information, and for this reason, they should not be underestimated.

Introduction-The summary of the announcement should, in the first paragraph, answer the relevant ‘6 Key Questions’: Who? What? Where? How? When? Why? The order in which these questions are answered is flexible and determined by the individual announcement. It is more important that the tone of the information corresponds to the subject-matter. When given a serious topic, objectivity is the main priority. Many other topics may be formulated in a more relaxed manner.

Ideally, the opening paragraph could also be published as a short news release in its own right.

Body- The main body of the press release explains in one to two paragraphs a story, making it clear why the article is of importance. Here there is enough space for detailed information, facts, figures and product information. The body of the text is almost always shortened by the editors. As this happens from the end of the text, make sure that the information is listed in order of relevancy..

Then what follows- and to be provided by the client- a short outline of business information and contact details.

Language pitfalls and other issues

Of greatest importance: Make sure that the ‘announcement’ always stays in the foreground. Space for information on the company, the history of the product or the product in general will be found, if necessary, in other places. Whoever tediously lists detail after detail with the belief that this information is important for an understanding of any new is actually likely to find their text filed under B(lah)

In contrast to promotional material, superlatives have no place in a press release. Even the world’s best product is, at best, a ‘high quality’ product in a press release. It is never ‘the absolute best there is, ever’. Additionally, press information always has to be true. Whoever submits press releases just brimming with exuberance actually assigns their work to a constant place in folder B.

SEO Keywords in press releases?

Clients do sometimes request high density keywords in press releases so the article can contribute to their web presence. This leads to a tricky balancing act for the writers, consisting of avoiding keyword spamming on the one hand, and keeping the client happy on the other.  Principally even press releases published online have to follow certain general rules. The valid PR-Code of Conduct includes, for the professionals at least, an obligation towards the clients and the public. Make your priority the content of the article. The overuse of keywords is just another guarantee that the press release will be filed under B.

Let us know what you think!

Happy Writing!

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