When it comes to press releases, first impressions are everything. If the opening (or “lead”) paragraph of your press release doesn’t quickly grab the attention of the reader, everything else you’ve written is for nothing. Your press release won’t get picked up, and your story will die. It’s pretty simple.
That puts a lot of pressure on you to create the strongest, most effective opening paragraph you can for your press release. That’s why a lot of writers spend the most time on their lead, because they know if they get that right, everything else will fall in line.
How can you write better leads for your press releases?
- Identify your story’s news hook – What makes your story newsworthy? Simply throwing the word “announces” somewhere in the lead doesn’t automatically make your story important news. Check out these 5 ways to determine whether your story is newsworthy.
- Answer the basic details – The opening paragraph should give the reader a basic overview of your story. You don’t have to cram every single detail into your lead. That’s what the rest of the press release is for. In your open, just answer the basic who, what, when, where, why questions, and most importantly, explain why this is relevant and important to the reader. If your opening paragraph doesn’t let the reader know why he should care, it’s not doing its job.
- Cut the crap – Buzzwords always have a knack for finding their way into press release leads. Eliminate words and phrases like “leading provider”, “innovate”, “new and improved”, “best of breed”, and so on. Here’s a good list of the most commonly used buzzwords in press releases.
- Ditch the template – Too often, companies fall into the trap of opening their press releases with: “Company ABC, a leading provider of (insert product or service here), recently announced…” It’s the same template that every other company is using, and it drives reporters nuts. After reading a dozen other press releases with the same basic opening, do you really think a reporter is going to notice yours if you use that same template? Of course not. Every lead should be different…fresh and new. Show some creativity and break free from the press release template.
- Slash unnecessary words – A good opening paragraph is lean and mean. It gets across the most important details quickly and with an active, engaging tone. No words are wasted, so the reader can get the juicy details of the story without having to spend a lot of time sifting through buzzwords, redundancies, and general fluff. If reporters have to sift through a lot of words to find the meat of the story, they’ll toss your release and move on to the next one.
Do you have a great press release lead you’ve used recently? Share it with us by leaving a comment below.
This article is written by Mickie Kennedy, founder of eReleases (http://www.ereleases.com), the online leader in affordable press release distribution. Grab three free ebooks, including the Big Press Release Book and Twitter Tactics, here: http://www.ereleases.com/insider/freebooks.html