Chapter 5: Advanced Guide to
Writing Powerful Press Releases
You hooked the journalist with your headline, reeled them in with your lead, and kept them reading ’til the end. Now what?
Now it’s time to seal the deal. You need to close out your press release with a bang. This is your last chance to make an impression.
1. Tips for Calls-to-Action
The main goal is simply to move your audience in the right direction. It tells your reader what to do with the information you have provided.
As your press release reaches the conclusion, you need to inform the reader what is next. Guide reporters to the page where your book is reviewed or sample chapters are available, or tell them how to get tickets to that enticing auction that’s taking place, or tell them how to donate to your Kickstarter (so they can tell others).
Oftentimes, you will find the call-to-action statement as a short, standalone paragraph.
Let’s bring back our fictional example from Chapter 1 again:
If the reporter’s read this far, far enough to know what the event is about and why it’s taking place, this paragraph makes it easy to craft a story beneficial to the issuing organization. If the reporter reading this decided to construct a story, they would have everything they need to direct their readers to The Davidson County Humane Society’s webpage to purchase tickets.
The boilerplate is another optional element, but is preferable. The goal is simple. It shares a brief blurb about the company or person who issues the release. Boilerplates can reinforce brand identity.
Think of a boilerplate as the “elevator pitch” of the press release. If you are on an elevator and someone asks you about your company, give them the 30-second run-down. This is your opportunity to explain your company’s history and purpose to journalists.
Here is the skinny on what you should include in your boilerplate:
- What your company does
- Who your clientele is
- Genuine strengths and accomplishments
- Include the tagline of the company, if you have one
- Include the full link to your company’s website.
- Keep it short; under 100 words is best. All three examples below range from 77-89 words.
Model your own boilerplate off of the following examples:
Apple ignited the personal computer revolution in the 1970s with the Apple II and reinvented the personal computer in the 1980s with the Macintosh. Today, Apple continues to lead the industry in innovation with its award-winning computers, OS X operating system and iLife and professional applications. Apple is also spearheading the digital media revolution with its iPod portable music and video players and iTunes online store, and has entered the mobile phone market with its revolutionary iPhone.
With 2006 sales of almost $11 billion, Kellogg Company is the world’s leading producer of cereal and a leading producer of convenience foods, including biscuits, crackers, toaster pastries, cereal bars, fruit snacks, frozen waffles and veggie foods. The company’s brands include Kellogg’s, Keebler, Pop-Tarts, Eggo, Cheez-It, Nutri-Grain, Special K, Rice Krispies, Murray, Austin, Morningstar Farms, Famous Amos, Carr’s, Plantation, Ready Crust and Kashi. Kellogg products are manufactured in 17 countries and marketed in more than 180 countries around the world. For more information, visit Kellogg’s web site at http://www.kelloggcompany.com/.
The Davidson County Humane Society was founded in 1995, thanks to a generous donation by the late Jack Russell Bullmastiff. The organization is a 501(c) non-profit serving Davidson County, Nashville, and the entire Middle Tennessee region. The organization in a non-kill shelter that accepts strays, neglected/abused animals, and owner surrendered dogs and cats. To date, the shelter has rescued and placed 23, 500 animals and thanks to the support of the community, that number continues to grow.
Since 1971, Starbucks Coffee Company has been committed to ethically sourcing and roasting the highest quality arabica coffee in the world. Today, with stores around the globe, the company is the premier roaster and retailer of specialty coffee in the world. Through our unwavering commitment to excellence and our guiding principles, we bring the uniqueStarbucks Experience to life for every customer through every cup. To share in the experience, please visit us in our stores or online at starbucks.com.
3. Contact Information
Contact information is a straight-forward element to any press release and it should always be included.
- Name of Person to Contact
- Title of Person to Contact
- Name of Company
- Full Website URL
The main goal is simply to throw journalists a lifeline for whom to contact should they need more information and have questions. Here are a few examples:
Name of Media Contact: Rex Labradoodle
Title of Media Contact: Executive Director
Company Name: Davidson County Humane Society
Contact Phone: (555) 555-5555
Contact Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Website URL: http://www.dchumane.org
VIP Talent Director
VIP Talent Connect Philadelphia
Gordon’s Guide – Adventure & Active Travel Worldwide
(559) 490-2800 ext. 128
Additional contact information that can be included: Fax numbers, cell phones, and after hours contact information.
4. Issues of Privacy
It would be naïve to ignore privacy issues that come along with publicly blasting out contact information. Here are a few privacy concerns and issues that press release writers need to be aware of.
To start, once a press release is sent out, it is visible on the wire’s website, which may be duplicated on other organization’s websites. This means that you do not know who will be viewing your information, nor what they will do with this information. With a little insight, you can take measures to protect yourself and your privacy.
Most distribution services require a phone number. Journalists and editors are not going to want to deal with switchboards, trying to hunt down a contact.
Create a phone number just for press releases. The calls can go straight to a voicemail. Just be sure to respond to calls as soon as possible, as journalists will not wait around for a return call. Immediate response is critical to getting your story out.
Raise your hand if you like spam email!
That would be no one. Email is a common component of press release contact information and you can combat spam and protect your privacy by creating a dummy account. This is essentially an email address just for press releases. Check it often, or have the mail forwarded to your regular account.
Final Thoughts on Closing your Press Release
Close with a lasting impression. If a reporter does wind up calling you (hey, sometimes it happens), here are a few simple tips to keep in mind:
- Know what you’re going to say beforehand. Don’t “just wing it”. Prepare some talking points and keep some notes handy.
- Reply to their inquiry in a timely fashion. As in ASAP. Chances are your story’s toast after 24 hours.
- Don’t tell them what to write. Answer their questions and tell your story — you don’t have to write theirs.
- Respect their time. Yours in one of many stories they’re likely working on that day.
- If they don’t return your call, don’t be a pest. Becoming a nuisance will only result in burning a bridge you may need later on.