Here’s some tips:
1. CONTENT IS KING
The content needs to be engaging, new and tell the reader something they didn’t know before they opened the email. If it fails to tick these boxes you are likely to be heading for the trash folder. Not good.
2. GET TO THE POINT QUICKLY
Most people read the first four paragraphs of a newspaper story or web story and then move on. That takes about 10 seconds. So that’s literally how long you have got to grab the attention of the person receiving your release.
3. CHOOSE A HEADLINE THAT GRABS THE READER
Any press release you send should have a headline. Aim for a maximum of 15 words and ensure it tells the story. Include it in the subject header of the email too.
4. DON’T GO ON AND ON.
No press release should be longer than two pages. One page is best. If you genuinely have more to say then make this clear in the release and show a link to an attachment where more information is provided. A press release that goes on forever will be spiked.
5. INCLUDE A PICTURE/VIDEO
Press releases that don’t have images or video will be frowned upon. The person using your press release needs as much material as they can to tell the story. Make it easier for them – not harder.
6. CUT & PASTE INTO THE EMAIL
Always attach a press release AND include it in the body of the email. This makes it easier for an editor or writer to use the copy. Attachments can invariably not work, so doing both gives you the security of knowing it will be easy to process.
7. TIMING IS EVERYTHING
I remember once working the late shift on a national newspaper and receiving a call from a PR at 6pm on February 13 asking if they could send me their Valentine’s Day Press Release. I thought it was a wind up. Not only had we had thousands of (mainly bad) press releases that week, but the paper was pretty much put to bed. It meant I did not want the press release but I also remembered the agency for all the wrong reasons. Take time to get to know when the person you are sending the press release to is most busy and avoid sending at these times if you can.
8. DON’T PESTER
There’s only one thing worse than getting a bad press release. And that’s getting a phone call ten seconds later to see if the bad press release has arrived. If you haven’t received a reply within 24 hours then a follow up email is acceptable. But, even then, don’t be surprised if you get a sharp reply. Don’t take it personally. Move on, and focus on the next story.
9. AVOID SALES TALK
A press release containing multiple backlinks is a huge turn off. So too is a release peppered with phrases and text which clearly makes it read like an advert. If you are trying to sell something then you should be sending the email to a commercial department not a newsdesk. Decide which it is.
10. BE PERSONAL
Every press release should aim to have a personal note above it. If you are sending out the press release en-masse, still try to keep it personable. Always thank the person you share the release with for their time. Make it clear you know they are busy but, equally, signpost how you can help them should they be interested in your content. Even if they don’t use the email they are likely to be impressed by your tone and read your next email.