Writing a news release? Want people to actually read it?
Take a few lessons from the tabloids with these three tips. Yes, seriously.
(1) Get your readers’ attention.
Proof that the President is a Robot
Elvis is Alive – and Running for Governor
Miniature Aliens to Attack Earth in October
Tabloid headlines tell us a lot about what gets people’s attention – and what they’ll pay to read. Shouldn’t it be relatively easy to get eyeballs on your free news releases posted online?
Not really. There are too many sources clamoring for your readers’ attention, especially on the Web. That doesn’t mean that you should sensationalize your news. But you should try to put eye-catching information in your headline.
If your company has just signed a historic partnership, don’t make your readers read all the way to the fifth paragraph to find out. (Newsflash: they won’t.) If your Kickstarter campaign just smashed its $1 million goal, don’t bury that info in a bullet point above the boilerplate!
(2) Make them (continue to) care.
You know why lots of (smart) people pass on alien tabloids? Their B.S. sensors explode. This is never going to happen. And because it’s never going to happen, it won’t affect me.
A killer headline is enough to grab attention but not necessarily enough to keep it. You have to write your entire news release so that the reader keeps caring, sentence after sentence.
Think about it – your typical alien apocalypse story doesn’t list self-serving biographical information about the guy who predicted the invasion. It tells readers what they need to know about the invasion. When are the aliens coming? How many will there be? How can you prepare?
Do the same thing in your news release (only with real-life news). Has your company recently completed a merger? Will that help bring your products to more customers? Lower prices? Improve your services in some other way? If so, let your readers know.
(3) Go easy on their eyes.
Even if you’ve tailored your news release to your readers, you might still get ignored.
Why? You could be hurting their eyes.
Clunky words. Stretched-out sentences. Page-long paragraphs. What strains the eye often drains the brain. So keep it short.
It could even help you tell your story. Maybe you not only reached $1 million on Kickstarter, but you also received a product endorsement from Prince Charles. Don’t try to jam all that great stuff into your headline. Use subheads throughout your news release to help readers absorb your full story.
See? Tabloids can teach you a lot about writing readable news releases. But you might have skipped right over this post if you hadn’t liked my headline.
Remember, focus on your readers – and don’t forget to go easy on their eyes.
For more news release writing tips, call 410-312-0081 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
— Chrissy Hoffmaster, Copywriter/Project Manager