GUEST BLOG: 10 top tips for writing a winning press release, by Lyndsey Whiteside

I little need to convince entrepreneurs of the power of PR. Having their profile raised and all of the benefits of their brand, product or service broadcast by an independent source is an obvious win.

Many will employ PR agencies or consultants, some businesses have their own marketing and communications director and some do what they can, when they can.

So few secure effective and regular PR coverage though because they fail to put in place the basics of a well written press release.

PR is a multi-faceted discipline. Its purpose is to influence the perception and decision-making of all kinds of interested and disinterested parties - but this won't happen if the message isn't delivered correctly.

A well-written, well-placed and delicately targeted press release will incite the attention of a stretched journalist. That's when you've won.

You'll have your business in front of the right audience and the independent endorsement inferred will have a profound effect on buying behaviour.

Writing a winning press release should be reasonably simple - but we all fall in to the trap of being over-passionate about our businesses.

It's worth taking an objective look at how to perfect the process:

1. Know the media you're targeting. Read, watch, listen and make sure your release is right for them.

2. Is what you're saying really news? Is it current, fresh and interesting to readers/viewers and the journalist, not just you?

3. Be succinct. Journalists need facts not flowery adjectives.

4. Capture the story in the first paragraph. Cite who, what, where, when and how.

5. Use the present tense and write in the third person.

6. Quote a spokesperson but use their voice, real words - something impactful and meaningful.

7. Back up your news with latest relevant statistics - and acknowledge the source.

8. At the end of the release, provide background company information, contact details and links for more information and images.

9. Pictures tell stories. Always provide incredible and high resolution photography - don't make the journalist have to ask or wait for it.

10. Maximise search engine pick up by using pertinent keywords and include text links in your copy. Consider news distribution services which can walk you through optimising your release.

Beyond this, look to build relationships with media in your field. It takes time but becoming a reliable and speedy source of news is extremely valuable - and being able to craft a winning release is a great PR stride towards achieving this.

Lyndsey Whiteside owns Inspired PR and Chairs the Wessex Chartered Institute of Public Relations.  For further advice, training or copywriting, you can email Lyndsey here or find her on LinkedInTwitter and Facebook.

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