PR Writing Techniques

Whether you are a small business, a startup, or you work for an online marketing agency, if you are using press releases for gaining links, you are completely missing the point. Google has already taken note of this strategy, which means you can no longer expect such links to have much power.

In order to really make a press release work for you, it has to attract the attention of journalists such that it gets adjusted into an article. This is the kind of link that helps you establish authority. With hundreds of press releases being force-fed to the media each day, how do you make sure it’s yours that get their attention? Here are some tips:

1. Write to the Audience

For your press release to be truly effective, you need to write for your audience, rather than for your client. In this case, your target audience is not the consumer of whatever product your client has to offer. Your audience is the group of journalists (and editors) who are likely to come across your press release.

Therefore, your press release should appeal to their tastes, views, and interests. Journalists often maintain a blog and the best way for you to understand what they like in a story is to read their blogs. Get into their minds and try to think and write as a reporter.
Let’s say, for example, that you’re writing a press release for a company that manufactures coffee makers. Don’t go pitching your press release to journalists covering the political beat! That would be way off the mark and a complete waste of your time. Rather, you should identify the journalists covering the lifestyle beat and check who among them have a special fondness for anything that has to do with the home in general or the kitchen in particular.

That group is your audience and they’re the ones you should keep in mind when you’re writing your press release.

2. Scrap the Jargon

So, you understand what PageRank, SMO, SMM, and SOS are all about. However, not all journalists know what these terms mean. Instead of using terms your audience may not readily understand, you should use words that explain the concept instead.

Jargon is only acceptable or maybe even advisable if you’re writing specifically for journalists working in industry-specific publications. Even then, you should be careful not to use slang used exclusively in your company.

Going back to our coffee maker example, not everyone may understand what the advantage of a “15 BAR pump” is over other types of pump. Therefore, rather than just saying your product has a “15 BAR pump,” you should explain that your machine uses just the right pressure to produce great-tasting cappuccino or espresso.

3. Scrap the Hype

Journalists are usually cynical and very critical. They were trained to be that way, so deal with it. Don’t fill your press release with superlatives and adjectives of extremely high praise. That will only make your audience doubt the veracity of your press release. Remember that journalists go through these releases only to see if there’s anything worth a story. Press releases aren’t a source of entertainment for them, so keep it factual and concise. Of course, that doesn’t mean your releases have to be boring. There are many ways to use humor without adopting hype.

Again, let’s go to our coffee maker example. Rather than saying, “This state-of-the-art machine gives you the best-tasting coffee anytime you want,” you could say, “Good coffee doesn’t need a Starbucks label.” The second statement may be simple, but it says a lot. It tells the reader that your machine lets the user enjoy quality coffee without the high price of an establishment like Starbucks. Remember that hype doesn’t just get your press releases ignored, but it also damages your credibility.

4. Don’t Hard Sell

Don’t write a press release the same way you would write a sales pitch and then expect it to deliver great results. Strong calls to action may be good for content you publish on your website, but it’s actually a no-no for press releases. Remember that journalists have a code of ethics to follow, which is why they need to do away with the sales pitch and go right to the core of a press release. If your release is all pitch and no core, then how can you expect a reputable journalist to take you seriously? It would be safer to do away with the sales language and just tell your story.

5. Check Your Style

There are generally two styles you can adopt for your press releases. The traditional style is also known as the “reverse triangle” style. It involves providing a summary and a solid background for the journalist to build on. The second style involves writing the press release as a news article in and of itself, which saves the journalist from having to set the tone for the story. If you choose to follow the second style, you will have to make sure you get to the point very quickly. Remember that getting too fancy could get your release ending up in the trash.

You may want to note that most journalists prefer the traditional style because it gives them the freedom to write the story in their own style. Besides, their training prompts journalists to do some research on the details and they aren’t likely to trust spoon-feeding of any sort. You may use the modern style if you’ve managed to build a relationship with particular journalists and you know for a fact that they’ll appreciate this type of press release.

Bear in mind that where press releases are concerned, your target audience is a group of journalists and their editors. Don’t worry too much about links; if you write a Press Release that can capture your target readership’s attention, powerful links and free publicity will come naturally.

About author:

Emma-Julie Fox writes for Pitstop Media Inc, a Vancouver company that provides SEO services to businesses across North America. If you would like to invite the author to write on your blog too please contact