5 Elements of an Effective Press Release

press_release_writing“The shorter and the plainer the better.” –Beatrix Potter

“Brevity is the soul of wit.” – Shakespeare

Minute by minute, a dizzying amount of data is created in this content-driven world. (Don’t believe me? Check out this infographic from DOMO )

And as PR folks, we’re under the gun to get the message across – clearly, thoroughly and correctly on behalf of our clients.

More often than not, this takes the form of a press release, the worth and future of which has become an annual debate. (But that’s another blog post entirely… For our purposes here, rather than dispute its inherent value, let’s focus on a few ways in which we can improve upon the content of future announcements we’re putting out into the ether).

I found a great article by Bill Stoller, The Ten Commandments of a Press Release, where he outlines his top ten “shalts” and “shalt nots.” In it, he argues that “when the recipient of a release focuses only on its content — and not on its creation — the writer has succeeded.”

Stoller’s point is an important one: Good writing allows the reader to focus on the message versus the medium. Although we’re taught to write one way growing up, I tend to think that the most effective press releases today follow these five guidelines:

  1. K.I.S.S. “Simple” works, but “short” is even more impactful in our content-crazed world.
  2. Sell the story, not your company. Yes, we know who is paying for the release, but that doesn’t mean anything if no one wants to cover it, correct? Take the time to create context.
  3. Remember your audience. Resist the urge to use marketing speak or pepper in industry acronyms. B2B or B2C, it’s doesn’t matter; keep it straightforward and interesting.
  4. Do the legwork. Again, know your targets and how they like to receive content. Social media savvy? Try tweeting a link to the release. Very visual? Scrap the words and make an infographic with your information. Make it easy for journalists to do their job, and they may just reciprocate.
  5. See number one. We’re following our own rules here.

Do you have any other principles for better press releases that you’d like to see added to the list? We’d love to hear your thoughts!

Persuasive Picks for the week of 04/25/11

Jumping20 Blogs Every Entrepreneur Should Read
Whats that? You’re looking for some new and exciting content to read? This Business Insider post from Alyson Shontell and Bianca Male has enough recommendations to keep small business entrepreneurs busy for quite some time!

Four Ways Leading Companies Are Using Social Media: Lessons For Us All
Ramon Ray shares four easily digestible social media success stories from some well-known brands – in this post on SmallBizTechnology.com.

SMB’s Continue to Increase Social Media Use
Marketing Pilgrim Managing Editor Frank Reed provides highlights from a recent American Express Open Small Business Monitor report that reinforced SMB’s slow and steady march into the deep end of the social media pool.

The shortcomings of Facebook “Likes”
Amielle Lake puts SMS and Facebook “Likes” up against each other to see which can inject a campaign with more juice – in this interesting read on iMediaConnection.com.

Frito-Lay Sets Guinness Record for Facebook Likes
Mashable‘s Todd Wasserman recaps details of Frito-Lay setting the Guinness World Record for highest number of Facebook Page “Likes” within a 24-hour period. Not only is the number they obtained impressive, but Fritos are really tasty when added to a nice bowl of chili and cheese.  :)

Image: Cordey via Flickr