Press Release Templates Offer a Road Map and Allow for Creative Navigation
Do you use digital roadmaps? They typically get you from A to B quickly and efficiently. And when you veer off course, or decide to take a scenic route, your digital map app automatically redirects you based on your new location. And thus is life. There are many ways to get to where we are going. We don't all have to follow the same route. We do however typically need to drive on the road if we want to avoid calling our friends and family for bail money!
Likewise is the life of a PR pro. We are presented with rules and guidelines, templates and processes. All are well and good. And yet, the most talented of us know how to let a structure guide us while allowing our creativity to bring great benefits to our businesses and clients.
Ensure your press release gets play when you consider the following press release best practices as a guide. And remember at the same time that it may be okay to take the more scenic road on your journey to final breakthrough messaging.
One release rule you should very rarely sway from is when you're writing a headline: remember to indicate the why. Why should anyone continue reading? Headline text should hook the reader into wanting to explore the content of the full release. Consider the following good and better examples of a press release headline:
Good - Abe's Muffler Shop to Provide Brake Repair Service
Better – Ensure your Auto is Safe and has Stopping Power when Abe's Muffler Repairs your Brakes
And let's not forget the subhead. A well-crafted subhead can expand upon the headline just enough to encourage the reader to keep reading. For example;
ASE-Certified Technicians Diagnose, Repair and Inspect Your Brakes in Less than 45 minutesLEAD PARAGRAPH
Great lead paragraphs garner attention. Ideally your lead paragraph encourages bloggers and reporters to want more. Think like a reporter. You're busy. You want news quickly. You want something that attract the eyeballs of your audience and at the same time feel new and different. Put yourself in your readers' minds and it will be difficult to craft a paragraph that is anything less than meaningful!BODY COPY
Following the pyramid below is a template approach with little room for outside of the line behavior. That said, there are reasons to write according to an inverted pyramid. And here is why.
The top of the pyramid is the most important copy. If the Blogger or writer stops reading after the
headline, they at least have the news. (If it was well written.) If reading stops after the lead
paragraph, the journalist has gleaned a bit more. And so on. When a release
starts with the finite details of the announcement at the top it is more
difficult for the reader to process. The reader
gets confused and your release
There is no hard and fast rule on length. However consider this. Look at the glossy print publications you currently receive; Wired, Elle Décor, W, Esquire and so on. Notice the length of the articles. Where the majority used to span across many pages and were continued at the back of the publication, we now largely see single page articles.
Readers are busy. They want to consume, enjoy and move on. The target of your release is a journalist. Not your CEO who, rightly so, feels great pride related to the content of your release. Journalists however, need to assess whether the information in our releases align with their readers interests or needs - as quickly as possible.
Certainly you can draft a three page release. And you can also try to back onto a highway from the off ramp. But we recommend doing both at your own risk!QUOTES
Do you need quotes? No. Do they help give your release a personal voice and add visual texture? Yes. Can they be difficult to attain and get approved? Absolutely! Try, however, not to abandon quotes - especially client quotes - because they can be picked up by a journalist and placed directly in a story without even contacting you. What a great way to get coverage!
If there is a best practice regarding quotes we can recommend it's to not make the quote too business-like. Make it real. Write it the way a person speaks.
Quotes can be one of the most dynamic parts of a press release. They can be fun and quirky and keep the reader engaged. They are the pinstripes on a classic car. Follow a template approach for quotes too closely and the press release runs the risk of being a grey car on a highway full of other grey cars.
Be the green boxcar!
Look at the following quotes and determine how you can make your quotes more authentic.
Good – "The ASE professionals at Abe changed my brakes in less than 45 minutes," said Susan Johnson.
Better – "Abe truly had my family's safety in mind," Susan shared. "I felt he really shared every important detail of my brake replacement work with me," Susan Johnson shared.BOILERPLATE
Another essential part of a press release's format is the boilerplate – right? Well maybe. Maybe it makes sense to consider throwing the boiler plate out in place of a call to action. When was the last time you experienced a journalist pickup your boiler plate after all?
Illegal behavior – right?
Well, we may not want to throw out boilers with the bath water, but seriously, could it be time to scale them back? If the release is compelling enough to get the reader all the way to the end, shouldn't we strive to give them something to remember?
Following are 5 unique ways to end a press release. They can replace or augment your (short) boiler. Try them and let us know what they do for you.
- Ask the reader to take a survey
- Include a mini-infographic which can be picked up by anyone and placed on their site with a link back to your site
- Ask the reader to answer a question. Provide a link to your blog where their question can be posted publically (just be sure to answer).
- Show your product or service and a clearly unwanted alternative. Ask the reader to choose.
- Just thank the reader for their time
What press release templates or best practices do you find value in and which ones have you tweaked to make your release work better for you?
Join in the conversation by giving us your ideas on what format tips you use for your press releases in the comments section below.
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