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Quick! Issue an email press release

Internet press releases go out as e-mail, not paper sheets or faxes. The basic structure of a press release remains the same as in the days of manual typewriters, but we've added a few elements, and carved the copy up into shorter chunks, for the sake of the reporters. You need to emphasize your structure more, too, with headings to alert the reporter to each section.

The tone's different, too. 

You have to fight to keep fluff out. Everyone in your company has a pet phrase for you to insert.  If you go along with their wishes, you end up with a release that sounds like a robot wrote it. 

You're answering an impatient reporter's questions.

  • What's new?  Your headline has got to sound like something the reporter might write--not what your boss would like to hear.  Focus on concrete benefits for the end users. Avoid hype and shorthand.

  • What's the gist of the story?  Write this as a reporter would, so they can lift the whole first sentence.  Avoid mission statements, self-inflation, pompous claims.

  • What are a few details I can use? Give me quotes that sound like a real person answering a question, not an ad slogan.  Give me concrete details that form a picture, or give a sense of the reality of the situation you are describing. When in doubt, include more specifics.  Reporters harvest the details, so they sound as if they know what they are talking about.

  • What is this company about?  Put in your boilerplate company history toward the end, so a reporter can lift it wholesale.  Keep the self-praise down, so a reporter does not have to edit it out.

  • Who can I call?  I have to get a live quote.  Give me the direct line, and other contact info, OK?

Based on these questions, we build up a standard structure, one that reporters are familiar with, so they know just where to look for the info they need.  You are fitting into the genre, in order to respond to the reporter's questions.

Tip: Use headings to introduce some or all of these objects, to help reporters scan through your release.

Resource:

Making news that fits (Hot Text module on news articles, newsletters, and blogs, 868K, or about 16 minutes at 56K)

Persuading Niche Markets, Individuals--and the Press (228K PDF file, or about 5 minutes at 56K)

 

 

Build up your Press Section

Too many Press sections lack the detailed information that reporters need, right away, at 2 am, when they finally get around to writing the story.  Jakob Nielsen had a bunch of reporters check out Press sections, and recorded their complaints. They had questions that nobody was answering.

Here's a list of key elements you need to put in your Press area:

 

See: Gable Group (2001), Middleberg (2001), Nielsen Norman Group (2001), Solomon (2001)

The marketing group said this product would give me a really good scalp massage.

 

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