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Write A Better Press Release – 50 Ways to Reach Your Readers #14

Got no response from your last press release? Then study these six top tips to help you write a super-powerful press release, presented by Bronwyn Hemus, co-founder of ALLi Partner Member Standout Books.

Bronwyn Holmes head shot

“A powerful press release will do your selling for you,” says Bronwyn Hemus.

Yes, journalists are busy but they are never too busy for news that will help them fill their column. Writing an irresistible press release may not be a five-minute task but with a little practice and the right mindset, you can make the news.

Here are my 6 tried and tested tips to help you get started…

1. Pick the right angle

You are a writer and you have just self-published your book. Is that really newsworthy? I am going to go out on a limb here and say no. A writer writing a book doesn’t exactly excite the senses but an unemployed person living in a squat writing a book about the perils of capitalism is worth a second look.

So what’s my point? A successful press release has a unique angle. Before you get started, ask yourself what it is about you and/or your book that will set you apart from the rest.

2. Say no to boring headlines

8 out of 10 people will read your headline but only 2 out of 10 will read the rest of your content, so think of your headline as your first impression. A great headline promises the reader that it is worth their time to keep reading. There are numerous resources on the web that will help you master headlines but this article is a good place to start: “How to write headlines that work”.

3. Avoid clichés

You want your press release to be original and punchy, so avoid empty over-used words that show a lack of imagination. Saying that your book will “transform readers’ lives” or that it offers a “world-class reading experience” is cringeworthy. Other examples of words to avoid include: best, largest, most, unique, revolutionary, breakthrough, unparalleled, unrivalled.

4. Inform, don’t promote

A successful press release offers information, not opinion. Don’t be tempted to say that your characters are truly original or that your book offers unique insights into a topic. A journalist will not trust an author’s opinion of his/her own book so try and avoid blatant self-promotion. If you met a potential investor for the first time, you wouldn’t start off with, “Hello, I am loyal to a fault and exceptionally intelligent.” Instead, you would say something that gently showcases your talent and ability. Inform people, don’t bore them to tears with self-promotion. Show, don’t tell.

5. Send it to the right place

Press release cartoon by Standout BooksEven the best press releases will be rejected if they are sent to an irrelevant publication or blog. Take time to find publications that publish similar content and figure out which journalist is your best  contact. You need to send your press release to a specific journalist and your press release should directly address that person, as opposed to something general like “Dear Guardian Editorial Team”.

Although there are a number of free and paid for press release distribution services online, and the more expensive ones can be effective, many will simply dump your release into a black hole. In 2012, only 37% of journalists actually used press release distribution services. You are better off with a personal approach.

6. Don’t give your book away for free

This controversial point needs mentioning. You may feel that providing a free copy of your book with your press release shows that you are serious and legitimate. Sadly, this is not always the case. Giving your book away for free can signal that you are trying too hard to impress. The bottom line is, if your press release is well-written and a journalist is interested in what you have to say, they will ask you for a copy of your book. If they aren’t interested and you send them a copy, your book will end up in the bin. Your work deserves more than that. A powerful press release will do all of the selling for you so don’t prop it up with a free book.

Do you have any more top tips to share on writing an effective press release? Please share them by leaving a comment.

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  23. Anne Milstead October 11, 2013 at 3:59 am #

    This helped me so much. I’m trying to write my own press release for my self-published children’s book. There is so much to read, it’s daunting, but your article gave me a great place to start. Thanks so much!

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  25. okmike June 24, 2013 at 5:50 am #

    Good article, but to be complete some examples of what to do and not to do would have made it so much better.

  26. Joanne Phillips June 23, 2013 at 8:16 am #

    Thanks Bronwyn, great post. I’d love to be directed to a really good press release template – I’m sure I’m not the only one who isn’t sure how a press release- particularly one sent in the body of an email – should be set out.

  27. janis f. kearney June 22, 2013 at 7:12 pm #

    Bronwyn, your suggestions are excellent. Having worked as a journalist before beginning my book-writing life, I quickly realized that most authors lack the basic, common-sensical knowledge needed for writing effective press releases. One other recommendation might be: Write to the newspaper, or publication’s general readership. States, cities, towns have unique cultures, traditions, and issues that mean a lot to them. Customize – however much is needed – your press release to the culture of your intended readership. Thanks Bronwyn, yours is the kind of advice that can move us to another level in our writing life.

    • Bronwyn Hemus June 23, 2013 at 10:15 am #

      Thanks so much for your comment and kind words Janis.

      You are completely right to point out the necessity of writing to the publication’s readership. The issues that matter to people in one city may differ from those that matter to people in another city so it is important to tailor your press release accordingly.

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