Nearly every business has written a press release at one time or another. We have worked with a few clients in the past that didn’t really see the need or value of producing press releases. This could be for a number of reasons. Some of our clients were not wild about writing press releases because they saw them as extra work with little to no payoff. Some perceived press releases as something only large companies do. Most of our tech clients saw the value, published press releases, and enjoyed growth.
Before sharing the five ingredients you should include in your press releases, it’s important to understand “the why.” Why are press releases important and how can they benefit your business?
Press Releases for Humans
First, they help build credibility and spread news about your company. The goal of a press release is to share newsworthy information in order to increase awareness of your company’s achievements. Any PR strategy worth its salt will focus on increasing free coverage because it is far more credible than advertising.
Unlike many local businesses, B2B tech companies are challenged to meet face to face with their clients or subscribers. Attending a local chamber of commerce or networking event hardly ever puts a tech company in front of its customers. Customers of a B2B tech company may be thousands of miles away. Press releases help tech companies reach their audience more easily.
Press Releases for Search Engines
Second, they help build website traffic. Press releases submitted through news sites are distributed to hundreds of other relevant websites, business journals, and industry news sites. You should include links to your website in each of your press releases. There will then be hundreds of websites backlinking to your site. A backlink is simply any webpage that has links to your website. This helps increase your search rankings and overall visibility.
Third, press releases show that your company is active. Companies that go years without releasing any news seem dead or not relevant to the industry. Press releases also provide content for you to distribute on your website, through email newsletters, and excerpts on social media. This is important because it again helps increase your overall visibility and gets people—your target audience—talking about your organization.
Writing and distributing press releases is obviously important. However, some companies do struggle with writing them and coming up with the right content. We’ll help you spice up your PR recipe with five new ingredients that will make your press releases really stand out to the people that matter: your prospects and customers
1. Write an Enticing Headline & Summary
One of the most important parts of any press release is the title. Second to the title would be the summary. Without a strong, enticing title and summary, the piece may not get read. Also, without keywords, other sources will not feature the article on their sites.
People may be interested in your business, but they are more interested in what your business can do for them. It’s your job to make them pay attention. How can you do that? By sharing news that speaks to the needs of your audience. Write titles and summaries as if they are the only part of the press release that your audience will see. Many times, that will be the case when it is posted on social media.
More often than not, the title is the only thing the audience will see. People don’t consume their news the same in 2018 as they did in years past. Most of your audience will skim social media and other online outlets for headlines and news. This means you have a smaller chance of getting the right people to notice, so make the title and summary count.
To write great titles, start with your company name, followed by a verb. For example, ABC Company Launches New Software Product to Help Accounting Departments Automate Reports. Titles should answer the questions of who, what, and why. Before writing press releases, you will have already decided who is your target audience. Tailor your press release title to them. Then, go through each word, one-by-one, and evaluate whether it is the best word to use.
Write a few versions and variations and ask for feedback. Once you have a handful of options, ask for feedback internally and select the one that resonates the most. If you have strong client relationships, you can ask for feedback from a couple of trusted clients. Follow this process for the summary section as well and you will be on track for a great press release.
2. Tie Announcements to Company Goals & Objectives
We have written, read, reviewed, and edited many press releases over the years. Often, we see companies completely missing opportunities to market themselves. As mentioned before, press releases are a way to get more coverage for your business.
The problem is most people write press releases like a journalist and not a marketer. That’s not to say that journalism isn’t useful or important. There’s a reason public relations is an extension of marketing. Your press releases should reflect the goals and objectives of the company. These goals and objectives should also be outlined in your public relations strategy so everyone is on board and knows what they should be aiming for.
When writing your press release, make sure you are not simply reporting the news. You want to state what the news is and then explain why this news is relevant. Let’s say for example that a company’s overall goal is to increase sales to accounting and HR departments. To incorporate this into a press release about a new hire or a new client, put a greater emphasis on what the company is doing to achieve growth. For example, ABC Tech Solutions hired John Doe to support companies implementing ABC Software due to staggering growth. Use phrases and keywords that indicate your organization is hitting their targets and winning.
3. Write From Your Reader’s Perspective
Focusing on what matters, what REALLY matters, seems to be an area where businesses struggle. We may think our audience cares about X when in reality they care about something else entirely. A good branding and marketing strategy helps companies truly know what their audience cares about. Press releases should build on what the marketing and branding strategy revealed. He may care about faster performance in a laptop, but he may not care about how the processor works to make that happen. However, a press release may focus on faster performance, while a later paragraph can explain the how.
The goal then is to write from your reader’s perspective. Put yourself in their shoes. Ask yourself what would be important if you didn’t know anything about your company or your competition. Make a list of questions you would want to be answered if you were shopping around for whatever it is you do. Try to come up with concerns you would have and think of ways to address that with your readers.
Once this preliminary work is done, it is easier to think more like your target audience. Next, you need to tailor your press releases to them and emphasize the things that are most important. For example, if you want to write a press releases about a new executive role, stress how this new person will bring experience and skills that will help the company accomplish something of importance to your readers. If you hire a new CFO, discuss how this person’s experience will advance the company and ultimately help customers save on your solutions down the road.
4. Use Strong Quotes
The use of quotes is important, and standard, in press releases. Sometimes, we see quotes that are very generic and can fit just about any person or company. Quotes like this do not bring value to the press release. People will read them and not really gain any insight outside of the main text. Quotes should highlight something specific and important for the reader.
Quotes must also always be factual and objective. Never say, “ABC Company is the best solution provider out there.” That’s not factual. However, a quote from the CEO can include a statement like, “Our clients always tell us we have the best solution available.” That is obviously subjective, but since it’s a quote, it’s not written as fact. This phrasing also gives credibility because it is stressing how the clients actually feel about the business instead of the business just saying, “We’re great, trust us.”
The quotes should follow the other guidelines that were mentioned so far. They should be clear and concise, tie-in or highlight a company goal or objective in some way, and be of importance to the reader. Random quotes that don’t help further the message of the press release are not helpful. To get better quotes, consider making a list of questions and actually interviewing people that you want to quote in the press release. Each time we have done that, we have captured valuable information.
Another thing you can do to make your life easier create a quote “library” to store a list of quotes. This can be as simple as a word document with a list of usable quotes. The purpose is primarily so you don’t have to constantly come up with new quotes every time you write a press release. It saves time and energy so you can be more efficient.
5. Be Creative
The last ingredient, but certainly not the least, is to use creativity. So many press releases are dry, boring, and not engaging. Make your press releases fun to read. Use language that is relevant to your audience and try to write at no more than an 8-10th-grade reading level. Yes, even if your audience is educated, press releases should not sound like a scholarly article. You can use different web apps to help check how complex your writing is. You shouldn’t be dumbing it down, but aim to be as concise and clear as possible in plain language.
When submitting the press release, make sure to take advantage of any attachments or images you can add. Many news sites allow you to submit a company logo or a digital marketing brochure. Incorporate as much of this as you can to further capture interest and attention. Try to do anything you can that will make your press release and your company stand out.
Now that you have 5 new tips, you are ready to start writing great press releases. Just to recap, the five ingredients to better B2B tech press releases are: writing enticing headlines and summaries, tying your press releases to company goals, write from your readers’ perspective, use strong quotes, and be creative.
We would love to hear what you think. What other tips would you add to this list?