52 Fridays is a year-long series for equestrian professionals and equine business owners and managers, with marketing and public relations information, ideas, tips, & resources shared here each Friday. New EMAIL blog subscribers receive a ’52 Fridays’ PDF when they sign up; existing subscribers and new RSS FEED & WORDPRESS subscribers can send a request for their own PDF here.
Press releases used to be just for the media, giving reporters information and content to help them write articles. Today, many press releases are put online as-is, which means that anyone, from your competition to your customers, could be reading them.
The pressure’s on when it comes to writing a press release (also referred to as a news release) for your business, event, or cause, but not to worry if you’re not confident in your writing abilities! Following these tips (plus using spellcheck) will help you in crafting a press release worthy of attention.
Headline: This needs to be clear and concise, as well as an attention-grabber that invites the reader to continue. Important words or terms can also be included, since they’ll become ‘keywords’ that can help with search engine results online. Some prefer to write a headline first, but it’s always good to circle back at the end and see if it needs tweaking; you don’t get a second chance to make a first impression, so make headlines work for you, not against you. Just for fun, here are a few ‘made up’ headlines…what can you tell, just from the title?
- RedBarn HorseFarm Welcomes Five-Time Olympian For Weekend Dressage Clinic And Private Lessons
- Tack-y Saddle Shop Announces New Multi-Colored Western Tack Line, Featuring Hot Pink Saddles
Story Angle or Message: What will your news release be about? This is when you must consider objectively what’s interesting to the journalist, the editor, and ultimately their readers. What intrigues you and entices you to continue reading an article? It’s not canned marketing messages or ‘rah-rah-aren’t-we-great’ text, but real, authentic, interesting information, served up in an engaging way. Also, look at what makes it into the publications or websites you’re targeting; what qualifies as news or a story worthy of telling can be quite different from what’s important to you as the owner or manager of an equestrian business. However, when writing a news release, you have to find a way to marry the two objectives.
Structure: Press releases follow some standard rules in their structure, so knowing what they are and following them to a ‘T’ will show the media you know the ropes and are a savvy story resource:
- Include the words ‘For Immediate Release’ at the top of your press release.
- Use the ‘inverted pyramid’ format, where the most important details are in the first paragraph, with less important information following. It’s an important tactic to convey the essentials upfront, since many readers don’t go past the first few sentences anyway.
- Use ‘who/what/when/where/how’ to help you identify the essential details to include upfront. You might start collecting your thoughts by actually writing out that information before you start.
- Include ‘boilerplate’ stuff at the end, typically a paragraph with data about your horsebiz such as location, when it was founded, any awards you’ve won or other important details.
- Don’t forget contact information! Always include a name, phone number, and email for additional follow-up or questions by journalists, and if you have images available you can list that, too.
Keywords: If you have keywords that will be important search terms online, be sure to weave them into both your headline and text.
Social Media & Links: This is something I find frequently missing from equine industry news releases I see. Include in your news release embedded links to your website, your social media accounts (e.g., Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.), AND to an online version of the news release. I often get news releases sent to my emailbox, with information I’d like to share with my own social networks, but I have limited space to do so. If I can share a link to an online version of your press release that’s at your homepage, it helps get your message out AND gets traffic to your website. Please, please, make it easy for people to help tell your story!
Spellcheck, Edit, & Review: Always run spellcheck to eliminate typos, and also be on the lookout for contextual typos – such as ‘too’ when you meant to use ‘two.’ If you can have someone else review your press release, that’s helpful, as is reading it out loud, either to yourself or a willing volunteer. Put in the effort to make it the best piece of writing possible.
For more on writing press releases, here’s a good article from Inc. Magazine’s website, or you can do a Google search to find samples and more tips. If you don’t have much experience working with editors, you can read 52 Fridays #27, Editors Aren’t Ogres, But Are You Still Afraid Of Them?
And, if you’re doing a video news release, these guidelines can help you develop a script for making your video clip. Writing a good press release can get you valuable editorial coverage, and you’ll improve your chances by sending out one that’s written well.
We’re now into the second half of the 52 Fridays series – do you have a success story or marketing tactic inspired by the series you’d like to share? Post your thoughts via the Leave a Comment link below. See you here next Friday for 52 Fridays #29!
Read other posts by clicking on the Sort Posts By Topic dropdown menu to the right and selecting a category, or you can select 52 Fridays to read posts #1 through #27.