There are many different formats you can use when writing your press release. The type of story you’re sharing often dictates which format makes the most sense. However, there’s one format I like to use whenever possible because it just seems to work – the list press release.
One of the most tried and true press release formats is the list. Lists just work. Don’t take my word for it. Just look around! Open up any magazine, blog, trade journal, or newspaper, and you’ll likely be able to find at least one story that’s written as a list.
“Top 5 Best Affordable Food Trucks in ….”
“Top 10 Things to do in …”
“Best U.S. Cities to Celebrate 4th of July”
“The all-time Associated Press Poll’s Top 25”
I could go on and on, but you get the idea.
The reasons list-based articles are so popular are very similar to the reasons why you ought to make list press releases a regular part of your PR campaign.
So why do list press releases work so well? I’ll give you 16 good reasons (see what I’m doing here? I’m using a list!)
- List headlines provide a clear preview of the content – Clarity should always be a top priority when writing press release headlines. You need to clearly and concisely describe what the story is about in your headline. This way, the journalist can quickly determine whether or not the story is of interest. List headlines quickly capture the essence of the story, and they’re easy to write.
- List headlines grab the reader’s interest – Next time you’re in the checkout line at the grocery store, take a look at the magazine covers. Many of them will have list headlines on them. Why? Because editors know these headlines suck readers in. There’s just something about “10 Easy Tips for Losing Weight” that makes you want to grab the magazine and read the article. It feels valuable, important, and informative, and you want to see which tips you’re missing out on. For some quick headline tips, head on over to Top 6 Qualities of a Good Headline.
- List press releases are easy to scan quickly – No matter who your target audience is, journalists or consumers, they’re all pressed for time. And whenever you send over a typical long, boring press release in that basic press release template, you’re shooting yourself in the foot a lot of times. Why? Because people aren’t really readers anymore. They’re scanners. And the easier your story is to scan over quickly, the more effective it will be. With a list press release, the reader can just scan over the main points of the list and move on if he or she wants to. You should know that eye-tracking studies have found that online users tend to scan content rather than read it. A list-style press release makes it easier for online readers to read your news.
- Lists can create engagement and controversy – One of the first things I learned as a blogger is that list posts get people talking. There will always be people saying you left something important off the list, and there will be others who think your list is right on. The same concept applies to press releases in the list-format. They can create controversy and get people talking. This makes for a more interesting story, which increases the chances of your press release getting picked up.
- Lists feel authoritative – Lists are typically written to serve as the go-to resource for a particular topic. Whenever an author pens the “Top 10 Ways to Lose Weight”, he’s saying that these weight-loss methods are the best of the best. There’s just something about a list that feels authoritative.
- List press releases keep the story organized and on point – I’ve talked quite a bit in the past about eliminating fluff and keeping your press releases tight. That’s one of my favorite things about the list press release. It’s like an outline. Just create the main points of the list, and fill in the details. It’s almost impossible to go off-topic.
- List press releases are usually resourceful – For example, consider “5 Ways to Keep Your Home Pest-Free During the Holidays.” It’s a resource. It’s news you can use.
- List releases are intriguing – I don’t know about you, but I have a hard time ignoring stories in a list format. If the topic even somewhat interests me, I have to at least take a quick glance at it. I want to know, what are the 5 ways to keep pests out of my home? There’s just something about lists that make people look, like they’re exposing secrets or important information you must have.
- List press releases are easier to read – You don’t have to read every paragraph (there are few or no paragraphs). You immediately know what the topic is. You just read headings and you understand what each item is about. (With a standard article, you really have to read it entirely to understand.) The reader can stop or resume reading a list anytime – When you start reading a list, you don’t have to finish it. You can stop and resume later any time without really mattering. Resuming reading a normal article is more difficult – since you need to first locate where you left off.
- Lists don’t lie – With lists, you know what you’re going to get. You get the top 10 things to do in Denver. Not 6, not 25. If you just read item 5 out of 10, you know you’re half way through the list. It’s harder to know your progress with a standard article. The list release headline tells the reader exactly what to expect.
- List press releases are easier to write – Why..? Because you can add a few details to just about any certain number of facts, repeat the required number of times, and your article is complete. A good standard article requires that you need to plan the whole thing (not just each list entry), research the topic, decide how to best write to make your point, and keep the whole document focused and consistent.
- List releases appeal to human nature – People prefer things and ideas that are organized. What’s more, people like other people to do the organizing work for them.
- Lists are “shareworthy” – If your list press release has some kind of value, readers will share it. Savvy writers should create lists for certain niche audiences.
- List releases offer a lightweight way to offer your content – this is really part of the “easier to read” and the “easier to write” items above.
- Insert a great adjective into your list headline – This can work very well in drawing attention and increasing sharability. 6 cutthroat tips. 15 stunning reasons. 3 astonishing facts. When these posts are shared around it can appears as if the sharer has added the adjective, which makes the headline / recommendation that bit more powerful. This isn’t an exclusive tactic for list-based posts, but it’s something that many of the best performing lists have in common.
- Lists feed the human desire for analysis, organization, and completeness. We love a nice list.
Not all list press releases and articles are created equal, though. And it is true that since list articles have become so popular, almost ubiquitous, many of them are authored by people who are just following the trend, and that (simply following the list trend) is definitely not a good reason for choosing the list format for your news release.
Here’s what I recommend for writing a list release that is successful:
- Write lists with 10, 23, 16, or 24 entries. In a giant review (about 100 million) of published lists these four numbers were most popular.
- Write a nice, juicy headline for your list. Let people know why they should read your list.
- Write an introduction to your list press release. Don’t simply start with #1. Give it a brief introduction.
- Write a conclusion to your list.
- Concentrate on just one list at a time. If you try to combine multiple types of lists into one, you will just lose the focus of a single list.
- Encourage readers to share your list.
- Some readers will want more detail for some of the items in your list, and you should provide information of substance and value. You can add brief details to some items, or include a web link to lengthier information.
Finally, here are some live examples of list-type headlines and articles from our own PR Fuel, which may spur your imagination as you create your own list press releases:
The 5 Things BuzzFeed Can Teach You About Press Release Writing
The 10 Commandments of Writing Web Content
7 Free Reputation Management Tools to Add to Your Arsenal
7 Local Search Marketing Tips for Dominating Your Region
20 Easy Ways to Generate New Blog Topics
5 Tips for the Perfect Elevator Pitch
5 Ways to Make Sure Your Press Releases Get Found
10 Best Free SEO Tools You Should Be Using
7 Tips for Better Business Networking
10 Stupid Employee Relations Mistakes
That’s all for now, I hope you consider using list-based writing for more of your press releases. Let me know in the comments!
This article is written by Mickie Kennedy, founder of eReleases (http://www.ereleases.com), the online leader in affordable press release distribution. Grab your free 160-page copy of the Big Press Release Book – Press Releases for Every Occasion and Industry here: https://www.ereleases.com/free-offer/big-press-release-samples-book/