Press Releases: How To Double the Chance Your Release will be Published.
By Jeffrey Dobkin
When writing a press release write the “Objective” first. The objective is the specific reason you are writing the release:
What do you want to achieve? What do you want to happen?
Most of my press releases are about marketing products. So I ask myself in a more sober I mean somber moment, “If the press release works perfectly what do I want the reader to do?” Am I trying to generate a phone call? Do I want the reader to order a product my client is selling? Should the reader come into my client’s retail store? Do I want to create awareness of my client firm, idea, or product line? Only then do I write the release and it is written specifically to fulfill the objective.
Press releases are marketing tools. If you write a release to generate store traffic for your store’s Grand Opening, it isn’t successful unless people come into your store (fulfilling the objective of the press release.) If you write a press release about your new book and no learns about it – and hopefully buys it (or at least checks it out), your press release failed.
Here’s how to write an effective press release. Since I’ve written so much about this in great depth in my books and other places on this website, this is a short recap and includes just the basics of writing an effective press release. A Press Release is a one page document sent to editors of newspapers and magazines, and if successfully placed is published as a story or editorial in the publication. Placement in the publication is FREE – so the magazine gets an interesting piece of information for their readers or new product information, and you get free publicity about your products or services.
Start with the objective — what do you want the reader to do?
With your objective in mind, write the headline – the most important part of the press release.
The headline must 1. attract readers 2. in your market to 3. read the rest of the release. It also must be clever enough to 4. make the editor publish your press release.
To create the best – and most effective – “interest arousing” headline – which is what drives people to read the rest of your release – use the “Jeff Dobkin 100 to 1 Rule,” as found in my book, Uncommon Marketing Techniques. Write 100 headlines, then go back and pick out your best one. Hey, I didn’t say you’d like it, I just said that it would be the best way to write the most captivating, most effective headline.
After writing the headline, write the body of your press release in a news style of writing – be brief, and write without using adjectives. Write the who, what, why, where and when in a pyramid style of writing with the important stuff at the first – like news stories: “Fire Kills 3, ten fire trucks rolled out to…” then on to the less important stuff. Editors cut from the bottom so by following this style the important parts never get cut. If it sounds like it will be interesting to their readers, editors will publish it. If it sounds like an ad, they won’t.
Keep it short. One page or less. If sending a print version (which I highly recommend) – double space the body copy so editors have room to mark it up when they edit your writing. A traditional one page release is about 400 words. One page. If you have more to say, write it all out then send it to me – I have a big red pen and I’m not afraid to use it.
Press releases are sent to editors of magazines and newspapers to provide information to their readers and in the course of this provides exposure to your firm and your products. If it’s written well, editors will publish it if you follow some basic guidelines. The simple techniques in my book will show you how to increase your chances of having your press release published from 5% to over 85% with a single phone call. The next few paragraphs show you how to double your chances of having your press release published.
Figure out the industries and markets where you need free exposure, then find the related names of magazines and editors in the media directories in the library. We use Bacon’s Media Directories and Oxbridge Communication Directories as well. Gather a list of magazines and editors, write a one page press release, and send with a personalized cover letter.
Here’s How-To DOUBLE the chance your press release will be published:
To get the best media coverage here’s the inside technique it took me years to figure out: call the editor BEFORE sending your press release. Ask the editor if he or she is the correct person to send the release to. This sets up a “Can you help me” dialog in a few seconds. If they are, give a 30 second pitch on your product and your firm, then let them get back to work. When you send your release include a personal cover letter.
In the VERY FIRST LINE of your cover letter say “Thanks for receiving my call. It was a pleasure speaking with you!” even if it wasn’t.
This letter opening will remind the editor that you took the time to call and speak with them. It’ll show them how important it is to you for your press release to appear in their magazine. This single phone call will more than double your chance of having your release published in their magazine or newspaper. And bringing the fact that you called them to their attention while they have your press release and cover letter in hand is just the time to remind them you took the time to call. Bingo: Instant notoriety! Yes, it really works! Of course, it never hurts getting the undivided attention of the editor by sending them a free sample of your product. If your product is expensive or too bulky or big to send to everyone, include a post card offering it to them for free if they send back the card.
BIO: Jeffrey Dobkin has written 5 “How-To” books on marketing, direct marketing and PR. This website is filled with “How-To” marketing articles just like his books, except with more typos and spelling errors. His books are written in greater depth with instructions on successful marketing methods. Call Jeffrey at 610-642-1000 – this number rings on his desk. Sign up for our mailing list, please. We need your name to sell to raise money for poor starving Uganda kids who live in the desert and make sneakers for the rich. I saw them on late night TV. I don’t know why the camera crew didn’t just give them a bite of the sandwich they brought for their own lunch. Or a soda or a bag of chips or something. My daughter Dani said this last statement may be a little over the top and offend people. I’m sure you’re not offended, are you? If you are, please drop me a note and I’ll send you their address in Uganda and you can send them a sandwich directly. Thanks. I read this last part to her too, and she now says she has no further comments. Then she commented, “Dad, why don’t you just make me a sandwich instead?” So I said, “Poof. You’re a sandwich!“ She didn’t think that was funny either.