I’ve spent a number of years writing press releases, especially but not limited to the food and drink industry. From my experience as a freelance journalist in Dublin (with RTÉ) to being a full-time copywriter in London (with one of the city’s top food, drink and travel agencies, Roche), I’ve been on both sides of the brief. Hopefully you’ll hire me as a freelance press release writer, but to show I know exactly what I’m talking about here’s my tips on how to write a good press release.
As a journalist … who has received thousands of releases, I know exactly what would make me send one to the trash bin. I know what would grab my attention. I know what makes me read on. A well-thought angle and a fresh (maybe unexpected) slant will pique a interest properly.
As a press release copywriter … I’ve honed and adapted my writing skills to every brief imaginable. I’m cut-throat with description. I agonise over titles. I can spot a spelling or grammar mistake a mile off. I’ve learned quickly what works and what doesn’t. Press releases are used to sell-in to press, bloggers and influencers in order to spread the word and reach potential customers, if written correctly they will work an absolute treat.
1. The Starting Line: Your Title
The title makes or breaks the release, sorry to tell you. A bad, or worse, boring, title will render the rest redundant as it simply won’t be read. This is your chance at that all-important first impression; don’t blow it. Be snappy, smart and focus on your end goal: to capture the recipient’s attention. Stress over the title way more than the body.
2. Make it Quick
You’ve grabbed attention for a millisecond now is your challenge to hold it. In the first paragraph I want everything in one neat little package, so ensure you’ve ticked off the five Ws (who, what, when, where, why). Sometimes I’ll tell a story or have a unique narrative, other times I’ll use powerful mental visuals so have some fun and creativity with it. Come at it from an angle of: ‘what will my reader have NOT read before?’
3. Good Progression
Your aim is always to make your story irresistible so that your reader simply must read on. You’re taking them on a bit of a journey, it all must be fluid. Keep momentum if off to a good start and read it as you write; is it all making coherent sense?
4. Turning the Bend
Unfortunately in the next paragraph or two it will be necessary to weave in the banal or necessary details that you can’t avoid including. You don’t want to lose that interest you’ve created, but this will be the point where most people will stop reading! How do you avoid this? Make it snappy. Say it in 10 words instead of 20. Be efficient. Break it up with an image, a snippet of a menu, a quote that supports your point.
5. Nearing the Finish Line
You’ll be tempted to rabble on to really sell-in and hit home about how great what it is you’re writing about really is. Resist this temptation to stretch to another two or three paragraphs. If everything above is concise, correct and well-written, you shouldn’t need to elaborate. Save some smaller details, advantages or features for those one-to-one email or phone conversations you will then enjoy with the journalist or blogger whose interest you’ve piqued – a nice subtle tactic if used correctly.
6. Replay, Edit, Practice Again
Now you’ve got all the information in one place, it’s time to re-evaluate and replay. Go right back to the start and read. Read it again. Read it five times. As Felicity Cloake once said at a food writing course, “kill your darlings”. Be ruthless – if a word or sentence doesn’t make the cut, kill it. If the story doesn’t quite move effortlessly, change it around. If the details are a bit mish-mashed and hidden, re-work and make them flow naturally. Edit, edit, edit.
7. Tighten the Bolts
Now it’s finished, smarten the edges and polish it up. Make sure the fonts are all the same. Triple-check the details. Standardise line spacing. Adjust the page setup to give the text room to breath. Ask an opinion; get a fresh pair of eyes to read. Only now will you be ready to send to your recipients.
A lot more skill needed than you thought, eh? If still flummoxed, don’t worry – I’ve spent years living and breathing this stuff, why not hire a freelance writer like me to do it for you? Let’s chat about rates…