How to Write and Send a Press Release

Filed as Guides on September 7, 2010 10:00 am

This is a guest post by Sergio da Silva, a professional SEO in London.

You have a new widget or maybe you are launching a new software on your website and now you want to tell the world. Sitting in front of your computer and already late for an appointment, you are trying to come up with unique and eloquent copy that doesn’t include the words ‘luminous,’ ‘ground-breaking,’ or ‘elegant.’

Unfortunately, I can’t help you with that. The online press release is still going to have to include some gripping and persuasive copy to attract visitors to your site or blog. In fact, the online press release relies even more heavily on good language, since it doesn’t include big colored fonts, cover art or creatively inserted quotes from reputable sources.

What I can help you with is how to address the particular requirements of the online press release. Though the press release sent to online media by email or the popular free press release distribution services serves essentially the same purpose as the print press release mailed or faxed to print media, it does require some special treatment to be successful. I am a big fan of sending press releases by email instead of using free distribution services. Yes, these services are going to get you a lot of exposure but using email distribution you can cherry pick the websites that you want to target, bringing relevant traffic to your website. Here are a few tips to make writing and sending your email news release go a little more smoothly…and get a great response for your site!

Writing the Release by Email

Subject line

The two most important things in an email news release are the address of the sender and the subject line of the email. This is because these are the only two pieces of information most people see in their email in-box. Make your subject line short (so that you can see the whole thing on a small computer screen) and to-the-point so it doesn’t get instantly deleted as ‘spam.’ I favor a simple subject line that states why I’m writing, such as “Review Copy of my website’s new product” for example.

Return Address

Your sender name is changeable in the options part of your email program and should state clearly who you are. Once it’s set, you should use it consistently. For example, if you are from an established website, use the website name for credibility, or if you are well known yourself, use your full name. The online media will get to know you, and if you do send them information that is a fit for their audience or community, they will start to anticipate your emails with pleasure.

The Content

Length
Your news release for email will generally be better received if it is short. Media people will often not scroll down more than once on an email, and if you haven’t gotten your message across in two screens, then you lose.

Four paragraphs are usually adequate:
one: explain clearly why you are writing
two: establish the credibility of your service(s) mentioning for example past experience
three: outline [briefly!] how your service will help the recipient’s readers (online and offline media)
four: ask for what you want (i.e. a review).

For immediate release?
Instruct your recipient when you want the news to be published. Most professionals include the headline on the header or the footer “For Immediate Release” meaning that the story should be published immediately. Be sure to include your contact details if the journalist or webmaster is looking for further information.

Sending Your Press Release

When you are ready to send your press release, there are a few details that can make or break your presentation. The first is your recipient list. When you send an email to one person, it is received with one address in the “To” field. If you put your entire media list in the “To” field, the recipient will receive an email that includes a full page of the email addresses of everyone else you are sending it to.

To avoid this, you can use several features of your email program. Your program probably has something called a ‘group’ or a ‘distribution list’ which allows you to put all the email addresses you’re using under one heading. This way, only the name of the group is in the “To” field. An alternative is to send the press release with yourself in the “To” field, and everyone else in the “BCC” (Blind Carbon Copy) field.

If you have sent out an email consisting of two pages of email addresses in the “To” field before your message, don’t fret too much (the first time, anyway).

Everyone does it once. I opened an email recently from a major airline with about 200 email addresses visible. Funny, I never did read the email buried three or four screens in.

Never, never attach your press release as a document of any kind. This is one of the fastest ways to get your email deleted straight from the inbox. Attachments take more time to open and are notorious carriers of computer viruses. Cut and paste. Don’t attach.

Test. Never skip the test. Write the press release, paste it into your e-mail, then send it to yourself. Only yourself. When you open it in your own email program you may be surprised at what you missed – maybe you wrote a signature and embedded your signature as well, maybe you forgot the signature all together, or you forgot to take out the line breaks and the email looks all jagged and is hard to read. It’s a very simple, very brief safety precaution, and it’s saved me a few times from making embarrassing errors.

Now you’re ready to hit that SEND button and start measuring the success of your campaign, but that a completely different story.

This is a guest post by Sergio da Silva, a professional SEO in London.

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  1. By Joshua Lynch posted on September 7, 2010 at 9:29 pm
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    Here’s a tip:

    Save some time and don’t write a press release. They don’t really get read by reporters at significant publications. In three years of reporting, I never once wrote a story because I got a press release. In fact, I never opened them. I used filters to detect them and sent them straight to spam.

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  2. By Tracy posted on September 9, 2010 at 7:36 am
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    Disagree on two counts. First, DO NOT PUT “FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE” IN THE SUBJECT LINE!!! OMG, the bane of my existence. I have been in media for 30 years and can tell you those three words are useless. If this is for some ridiculous reason NOT information that is OK to publish/report now, DON’T SEND IT TILL YOU’RE READY!

    Second, re: Joshua’s comment, disagree. He may have missed some bonafide stories. Yes, many news releases (don’t call them “press” releases) are useless. Many are not. I have been explaining that it’s important NOT to cease the practice of sending them – too many people these days are saying Oh well, I announced it to my 200 Facebook followers, and now the world knows! Sorry, no, the world does not.

    Other advice I frequently offer:

    DO NOT MAKE YOUR NEWS RELEASE ATTACHMENT-ONLY. If you insist on putting it in a PDF or Word doc (gag), do that in addition to putting it in plain text in the body of your e-mail.

    If you send me something with FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE as the e-mail subject line, and no text, just a press release, maybe slugged PRESS RELEASE, you have just raised my blood pressure AND raised the likelihood you’re going straight to the round file.

    A bigger issue that’s maybe closer to what Joshua is saying: There are many things that don’t belong in news releases. I’ve seen people who run neighborhood sites think that a new feature or new big advertising deal is news-release fodder. News flash: It’s not. Tweet, FB, post about it all you want, but don’t waste someone’s time with that. If it’s something bigger like, you launch a brand-new site of wide interest, MAYBE now you’re talking news release.

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  3. By Vic posted on October 26, 2010 at 5:16 am
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    Press release is what’s been using for many businesses and companies for years. But I think this can also be effective for bloggers who want toget some exposure for their blogs. But mostly, press releases are junk. Unless you make one that is catchy, very useful and relevant to readers. Here, expert bloggers and content masters know how to make their press release irresistible to read.

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  4. By Jason Berg posted on November 2, 2010 at 7:34 pm
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    How to save the capital market system, and solve the individual economic problems using the capital market system. The economic problems facing the individual citizen today is caused by the US government NOT finishing to set up what it started 200+ years ago! The capital market system for all citizens to live within it. Only the governemt that issues the money can do the inital capitalization for the entire capital market. The initial investment must go through the assets of the governemt. The assets are each individule citizen living in the country. After the inital investment is made, (with strict structure) then each citizen can draw money from approved usees set up by the congress. The initial investment is NOT a investment into the private sector market. (stalk market) It is invested by the fund manager of the governemt, to expand the capital market throuout the world. By finding trading partners, and those governments that also want to use the capital market system. Since the founding of the nation, the set up has not been completed, so we have a government fighting against the very system it set up to pay for the cost of government, and provide services to those who can not capitalize in the market. Please contact me if you want to know all the details on how to save the capital market, and stop the slide to economic dictatorship. When the market fails, the government will need to set up a economic dictatorship, like they have in China. I for one, do NOT want to live in a dictatorship. How about you? Jason Berg, Fort Myers Fl.

    [email protected].

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  5. By cafedada.tv posted on November 30, 2010 at 3:53 pm
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    And very important: people usually have their company or product at the front of their mind when considering the news release. However journalists will have the interests of their audience at the top of their considerations. To be effective, consider this question from the journalist’s perspective.

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  6. By Jason Berg posted on November 30, 2010 at 4:36 pm
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    A vote for Obama in 2012 is a vote for economic dictatorship in the USA! (as well as all Dem’s, and some R’s too) This will never happen as long as the US Constitution is still in place. The Founding Fathers laid down a frame work for future generations to find economic solutions, the solution was found in the Holy Bible, and it is now up for all to see and review at http://www.internetauction-mall.com to print, read, and of course edit, and it needs help from all who find truth, and someone can get it in professional format, and get it better, but this comes from the BIBLE, and so gets us all closer to Jesus Christ, and this Gods’ WILL, it will not be shaken! Each citizen can take a small part, and expand on it, and write about it, set up web sites, post on blogs, offer in small groups all across the land, so on…

    Reply

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