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.
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
Even 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.