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Seven Traits of Press Releases That Actually Get Read

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I wince at 99.99% of the press releases I receive daily. That's because 99.99% look like sloppy cut-and-paste jobs, ones that have nothing to do with the Daily Fix and its readers, and everything to do with the sender, the sender, and, oh, right, the sender. Reading a press release that doesn't make me wince is rare---yet not impossible.

Now and then, I receive press releases that are smart, audience-focused, brief, and interesting. So, for this week's post, I thought I'd stay on the sunny side of the street and share seven traits about press releases that DO get read.

1. A Zippy Email Subject Line


The email subject line often sets the tone for the email I am about to skim. A subject line that captures (positive) attention is one that highlights the main focus of the article and why readers should care about that focus. Remember: The subject line isn't a last-minute addition to your emailed press release. The subject line is the friend that will either get you into the party or get the door slammed on your face. Treat your friend well.  

2. A Decent Greeting


Personalization would be fantastic. A "Hello, Veronica" beats a "Hi, There" any day. (However, my expectations are real, and most days, I receive emails from people addressing Victoria, Valerie, Vanessa, Sir/Madame, Blog Editor, Admin, Editor, Veronicaj, and Jarski.) Any greeting that shows that the sender did take time to read the guidelines for blog submissions or to understand the Daily Fix audience puts me in a good mood right away. So when writing your press releases, take time to think about how you will address the reader.

3. Clean, Crisp Lines


I receive myriad emails that have the greeting in a tiny font and the rest of the piece in a larger, bold font. Sometimes, the emails are in different colors or fonts. Clearly, my name was swapped out in a form email. I don't expect people to handcraft every email to me, but, sheesh, at least don't be obvious about the form letter.

A fantastic press release doesn't look like a press release. Instead, a fabulous press release looks like a quick, interesting email from someone who knows his stuff. The "official" press release (if it really needs to be included at all... ) is an attachment or added to the bottom of an otherwise intriguing email.

4. Well-Written Summary of What's Up


An elevator pitch is the best kind of pitch. For the digital world, imagine your elevator pitch is a tweet. Just tell me quickly and briefly why the news you're about to share matters. What's your point? And why should I care about it?

5. Bullet Points


Bullet points make for a easier, clearer read. Also, they demonstrate whether the author knows the most important details of the press release. If someone can't write brief bullet points about their content, that person does not know his content. If you write good bullet points, you're also very quotable, which is always a plus.

6. An Invitation to Talk More


One of my favorite endings to any email or press release is: "If you've any ideas of how this can be a better fit for the Daily Fix, please feel free to email me." I love that line. Those emails respect the reader's time and also demonstrate a willingness to create content that better suits the audience.

7. A Shareable Piece of Content


Remember when we were kids who attended birthday parties and received little goody bags? A good press release makes you feel like you've received something fun and captivating. So, when writing a press release, be sure to include information regarding where to get additional content for the readers. For example, a good press release will mention a related infographic available for download, a downloadable whitepaper, or even a cartoon or photo of the newsworthy event.

Remember, when you're writing a press release, you are writing for a person, not a building, who will receive your press release. And if you're really stuck on how to approach that person, imagine you're writing for your neighbor, who knows nothing about your business and will end the conversation if you get too long-winded or boring. Always write for people.





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Veronica Maria Jarski is the Opinions editor and a senior writer at MarketingProfs.

Twitter: @Veronica_Jarski

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Comments

  • by Richard Caster Mon Aug 5, 2013 via blog

    Pretty close to what I was taught in Speech 101 in 1964. Obviously updated to the computer age.
    It's so true that we all forget the basics and they are what works.
    Looking forward to more of your articles.

  • by Edwin Mon Aug 5, 2013 via blog

    Truly, I think that was the most pithy and helpful post I have read on writing a press release. I think like most content, it has been written for SEO, not for people. The funny thing is that this type of content becomes rapidly dismissed by people.

  • by Veronica Maria Jarski Mon Aug 5, 2013 via blog

    Richard,

    I feel like we all need a reminder of the basics now and then... :)

    And thank you!

  • by Veronica Maria Jarski Mon Aug 5, 2013 via blog

    Edwin,

    A good press release can include keywords without those keywords being forced... but unfortunately, sometimes reading a press release feels "keyword keyword keyword" rather than a good point with the keyword as part of the normal sentence structure.

    Thanks for taking the time to comment!

  • by erik Mon Aug 5, 2013 via blog

    Thanks for the post! I liked how you broke down tips for writing press releases. I think the challenge most writers have is having to write for either SEO purposes or for the readers. Few writers fully understand how to write for both.

  • by Rachael Drouhard Hammer Mon Aug 5, 2013 via blog

    I've been an unofficial marketer for many moons, recently having hacked my own career path to align with my passion for content and people. So... I am a sponge soaking up information at a more rapid pace than normal and writing a successful PR is a new skill in need of polishing. Thank you for the well written article. It provided inspiration and validation that we're on the right track.

    I wrote down 'goodie bag mentality' on my whiteboard wall as inspiration for the emotions we're trying to evoke. Awesome!

  • by William Tue Aug 6, 2013 via blog

    Dear Veronica,

    You do practice what you preach! :-)
    Excellent article with catchy subject title and easy to read summaries!

    Best Regards,

    Will

  • by Veronica Maria Jarski Tue Aug 6, 2013 via blog

    Erik,

    Exactly! Both need to be kept in mind.

    Thanks and happy writing.

  • by Veronica Maria Jarski Tue Aug 6, 2013 via blog

    LOL That's fantastic.

    And best to you in all your work.

  • by Veronica Maria Jarski Tue Aug 6, 2013 via blog

    Will,

    Thanks! I appreciate it.

  • by Darren Leach Tue Aug 20, 2013 via blog

    In response to #4, I was always told the most important part of an email was the end. Not the closing to your release of pitch, but rather the visible ending. They want something they can skim, not a novel. Can't see the ending = Not likely to be read.
    A well formed press release should be the bare bones of content. Firstly because it entices the reader to learn more; and secondly because you don't want to waste their time.
    You nailed it when you said a press release/elevator pitch is like a tweet, I love the comparison!

  • by Sydney @ FindGood Wed Aug 21, 2013 via blog

    This was a really interesting read and gave an essential perspective on press releases - the receivers point of view.

    I particularly like point 6 'An Invitation to Talk More', it is easy to overlook the human interaction that happens during a press release send out. In the urgency to pass on the information you want to be considered you can forget to give consideration and engagement potential for the person who is at the other end of the inbox.

  • by Chaz Wed Sep 4, 2013 via blog

    “...nothing to do with readers, and everything do with the sender…” Well-said! As press releases become less about SEO and more about the quality of their content I look forward to seeing that change.

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