Five Questions to ask when writing a press release
There are a million reasons that your press release can succeed and only a few things that can hold it back. However, 90% of all press releases contain at least one of these mistakes and quickly makes the content easily forgettable and dismissible.
Here are five quick questions you can ask yourself as you write your release or while you’re reading it over.
1. Who cares?
Before you worry about a hook or headline, you need to ask this simple question. Most companies have a hard time stepping away from their own perspective. They write their content without knowing why this story would matter to anyone outside their organization.
Ask yourself “who cares.” If you can’t answer that question, you need to revisit how you’re framing your release.
2. Is my headline optimized for search engines and human beings?
A generation ago, a news release’s headline had to catch an editor or reporter’s attention. Now you need to earn the search engine’s attention too.
Headlines are now a delicate balance of using your SEO keywords, while still writing a captivating headline.
3. Is my first paragraph also optimized for search engines and human beings?
Just like your headline, your lead needs to draw the reader in, while still containing SEO keywords.
To please your human audience, keep your release top-heavy. Write a strong lead and keep your key points and facts as close to the top as possible.
Some people fill their lead paragraph with preamble that they feel is “building up to something.” Never do this. This is a press release, not a Hitchcock film. You have a short window to grab your audience’s attention, don’t waste it.
SEO rules are subjective and always changing, but it’s usually a good idea to include your keywords within the first 100 words of your news release. This shouldn’t be hard. You probably would have done this without meaning to.
4. Am I using multimedia?
Again, this catches the attention of search engines, as well as editors and reporters.
Always add videos and images to bring your story to life. Also, try to name these files with SEO-friendly names, and add keywords to your photo captions.
5. Is it the right time to send this?
Is this release promoting an award your company won 2 months ago? Or is this promoting a product that might be in higher demand over the holidays? Poor timing can sink the discoverability of any news release.
If your company has been putting off sending a release for any length of time, remember, its relevance may fade with each passing day.
At the same time, maybe your news release will play well now, but would do even better during Oscar season, or over the summer months.
Be strategic about the timing of your release. Don’t just send it, “when it’s done.”