As a freelance writer you may be asked by a client to draft a press release (PR) as part of an overall web content writing project. Typically, the press release will be for distribution through online PR services such as PRWeb and MyPRGenie.

The purpose of a press release is to distribute ‘news worthy information’ about the business to media houses, journalists and content writers, for sharing information with respective audiences and industry publications.

Press releases are used for announcing a host of developments, such as –

  • New product/service launches
  • Major changes in the company (a new website for instance)
  • Hiring of top management
  • Promotional campaigns
  • New branches / offices
  • A new partnership

Although an effective business promotion tool, the style of writing a press release differs greatly from other online methods such as email marketing, blogs and website content.

Writing a news worthy press release
Write a news worthy press release

Here are 5 tips for writing an online press release –  

1. Make it newsworthy – Journalists receive thousands of PR’s. To grab attention, the press release must be newsworthy, highlighting a clear value, benefit or impact of the announcement to readers. As the PR writer, use a powerful header and succinct opening paragraph to outline the key message. The PR must clearly answer who, when, where, what, why and how of the story.

2. Keep the language non-promotional and simpleIf you write a PR as a promotional message for the business, it will be bypassed by reporters looking for more important, value-added stories to share with their readers. Write the PR in a news reporting, non-promotional style.  Keep the language concise; stay away from the fluff / sensationalism and avoid industry jargon.Ensure that the PR is grammar-error free.

3. Include the ‘people touch’Include short quotations from people relevant to your story. Include personal anecdotes such as customer testimonial, on how the change has made an impact.

4. Optimize the PR for an online audienceThe PR is a good opportunity to improve your website’s search engine visibility. Include anchor text links as well as URL hyperlinks.  Include keywords in the PR headline as well as body copy. Add videos, images and infographics to create content that catches attention of reporters through social media feeds ( Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest).

5. Add basic information at the end – The PR body copy should contain the most important information of your story, followed by basic information such as ‘contact’ and ‘about us’ towards the end of the PR. The ‘contact’ section gives the name and contact details of the person to be contacted for more details on the PR. An ‘About Us’ section is a good way to give information about the company or background of the person on whom the PR is based.

Also, read the PRWeb Guideline for writing online news releases, which I found helpful as a reference point.