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Small businesses can now gain widespread dissemination of press releases via companies that distribute them over the internet. This represents an inexpensive option, compared with the use of traditional and often high priced public relations firms.
But wide distribution does not guarantee that publications and other news outlets will use press releases. They have to be informative and newsworthy. Toward that end, MyPRGenie offers the following top 10 tips for writing press releases, beginning with number 10:
- Always include basic information. Every press release should include the name of a person to contact for more information, along with their job title, phone number and email address. You should also include a dateline, which indicates the date and the town or city where the news is occurring. There should also be a headline that briefly summarizes the news, and an, "about us," paragraph that summarizes the subject of the press release. Also provide background info on the company, person or event, including websites, for more information.
- Avoid jargon. Don't assume that your audience will understand technical language or industry terms. More often than not, they won't. Write as if you are describing your news to a fifth grader.
- Get to the point. Also keep in mind that your reader probably has very little patience. Draw them in with a lead paragraph that is both catchy and brief, summing up the story or giving them enough of a taste that they will want to read on.
- Spelling counts. So does grammar. It may not be fair, but typos and writing slipups reflect poorly on you and your credibility. So make sure you double check and triple check for mistakes. An extra set of eyes is always recommended to review the release. Even the best editors need editors.
- Remember the five Ws. As Journalism 101 professors will tell you, a news story should answer the questions of who, what, when, where, why and how? Answer those questions in your press release. In short, leave no questions unanswered. If, in order to use your press release, an editor has to call you for clarifications, chances are that he or she won't.
- Watch your words. Make sure that every fact can be verified, and that every person or company named in your release has given their permission for what you are writing about them. Don't embellish with falsehoods. Your readers will sniff it out, and you'll be discredited.
- People count. When possible, try to include people in your story. People are more interesting than processes or inanimate objects, and readers relate to other people. If you can, include a personal anecdote or description of how your news affects people, including the readers.
- Use quotes. Direct quotations from key people involved in the news of your press release, provided those quotes are conversational and interesting, help draw the reader in. Make sure they are brief and don't sound as if they were written by a contract attorney.
- Answer the question: "What is the news here?" Keep in mind that your audience is a journalist or website reader who is interested in the news story that you are hopefully delivering. They will not respond to a sales pitch or a lecture. Build your story around a news hook, or the reason that this is news, such as an upcoming event, an award, a milestone, an announcement, or the release of a new product or service.
- Just the facts, ma'am. Get to the point, and don't let florid descriptive language get in the way of the story. You've only got 400 words or so to tell your story, so make every word count.
MyPRGenie is a provider of public relations services that allows clients to deliver press releases in the form of PDFs, text or photos to targeted audiences. It offers free press release posting on its website, search engine optimization, RSS feeds, media release distribution to thousands of websites and media outlets, and website traffic tracking and reporting for releases. For more information, visit www.myprgenie.com or call 212-807-8300.
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