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How to write an effective press release

How to write an effective press releaseOnline press releases have become an integral part of online marketing and SEO. Not only can you use this affordable and effective method to get the word out about your news item, but–if you know what you’re doing–you can allow it to play double duty and contribute to your SEO campaign.

By properly crafting your press release you’ll gain attention from industry experts, bloggers and the press all while improving your visibility. As an added–and very important–bonus, the interest that you generate can prompt people to create a “buzz” about your event with real traffic and increase inbound links to your site. Usually these links are the coveted inline links from content (mixed into content) that are so hard to get these days. Inline links are highly valuable to an SEO campaign and highly respected by Google.

What’s really cool about press releases is that you can affordably distribute your release through many easy to use online services. There are even some free distribution services available. Even for the pay services though, the cost is minimal compared to paying for traffic by the click. Press release services offer distribution for one flat fee so it’s much easier to estimate your costs and budget. Plus you get the residual SEO benefits of permanent links back to your site if you craft a well written and effective release that gains the attention of influential people.

To start off I’ll give you a quick summary about how to properly craft a press release. There are many other great resources on the web that are specificaly targeted to writing press releases so I won’t go into great detail here. Then in my next post I’ll move on to our target subject: Press Releases for SEO.

The basics of crafting an effective press release:

Formatting a press release is not hard; what’s hard is writing one. Getting the attention of influential people is not an easy job. They’re usually busy, picky, overwhelmed by information and spam and they’ve generally “been around the block”. Which means that they’ve heard it all and probably written about it too. So your new press release might be big news to you, but to someone influential, it can be just another boring intrusion into their day.

So, how to you get there attention? Below is a top 10 list of best practices to get you started on the right track.

1) Start strong and summarize your news in the first paragraph. Use this to get the reader’s attention and to compel them to read on. Many services require you to submit a one paragraph summary anyway, so plan for this and make it good.

2) Make it newsworthy and relevant. As I mentioned previously, what’s important to you may not be importantly to others. Make sure your press release is presented in a way that makes it sound newsworthy and don’t bother writing a release if it’s not something that others would care about.

3) Keep it short and to the point. A good press release gets quickly to the meat of the story. It doesn’t use flowery language and drone on and on about every little detail. Grab your readers attention, give them what they need to know in plain language. Use just enough words to tell your story.

4) Don’t exaggerate. Just stick to the facts and be honest because it can only hurt your reputation to embellish the details.

5) Skip the industry jargon. Communicate your news by speaking plainly as if you were talking to someone who knows nothing about your line of business.

6) Use the right tone and avoid addressing your audience directly. This will make your press release sound like an advertisement instead of an important news story. Use active, not passive voice. Avoid using “I”, “we” and “you” outside a direct quotation. Keep the tone of your release all business too. Don’t go into too much personal or non-business related blabber. Most importantly, avoid using exclamation points!!!!! This is a great way to ruin your credibility.

7) Stick to the “approved format”. The standard structure of a press release includes the header, headline, dateline, body, boilerplate (who you are) and contact info. Press releases are written in block style, so no paragraph indentation is necessary. Also, NEVER submit a press release in all upper case letters. It will wind up in the trash or deleted because it’s hard to read.

8) Identify the problem and tell about the solution. Illustrate using real life examples how your business solved a big problem and use real life examples to communicate why you’re important and relevant. Essentially you need to tell them why this is news.

9) Pick your angle. Find a way to make your news release timely and relevant. Focus on your “hook“.

10) Use correct grammar and spelling. Not everyone is perfect (definitely myself included) but do your best to use proper grammar, punctuation and make sure to check your spelling. Do you know the difference between your and you’re or their and they’re? If not, then you should probably consult a professional before announcing something important to the world about your business. Your credibility is on the line.

For more information on hiring a professional to write your press release, contact myself or try Elance to interview professional writers from around the world.

Creative Commons License photo credit: Kah Zanon.

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Chris Auman is a veteran Internet marketer, website developer, and designer with over 20 years of experience in the trenches. As President and Senior Strategist at Sanctuary, Chris has successfully guided the online marketing efforts for companies large and small. Chris’ clients range from family owned & operated retail operations with a local footprint of 1-10 stores to multinational Fortune 500 companies.

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