As a freelance writer, you’re probably going to find yourself tackling many different types of writing projects, from blog posts to eBooks. One of the staples of freelancing, as you may already know, is the simple press release. Press releases are universally popular among a wide range of businesses and organizations, and for good reason. Any time a client wants to alert the world to something. whether it’s a new product, a new location, or a weekend sale, writing a press release is a professional, effective way to do it.
Many business owners, however, do not have the skills or experience to turn out regular press releases as fast as they need them. They also may not have the time. That, of course, is where you come in! If you become adept at writing professional-quality press releases, it will be a boon to your career. As a rule, the more experienced you become, the faster and easier it will be to write a press release for your clients. That’s why it’s a good idea to train yourself to write great press releases. So, how exactly do you do that?
Here are some important tips to keep in mind:
Learn the format by heart.
Unlike blog posts, press releases adhere to a fairly strict format. If a press release looks shoddy or amateur, few people are likely to bother reading it. If you want to write press releases on a regular basis, then make a cheat sheet with a quick guide to formatting them, from the dateline to the boilerplate.
Study professional press releases.
The best way to teach yourself the art of writing a press release is to learn from the pros. Spend an afternoon reading through a database of press releases such as PR Newswire. Study the way they use language, the tone the writers adopt, and the way they fit a lot of information into a small space. You may want to write a fictional press release as practice, so you can get a better feel for it.
Get to the point quickly.
Press releases can’t afford to wait four paragraphs to get to the main point. It’s important to grab the reader’s attention right away, so make sure you’ve got your most important information close to the beginning of the article. Many people will only read the first couple of sentences, and then scan through the rest of your press release to see if there’s anything else of interest.
Omit needless information.
A press release shouldn’t include any arbitrary information; everything should be relevant to the main point of the story. Usually, biographical information about a person or a company should be included in the boilerplate, rather than in the press release itself. If your press release is overstuffed with unnecessary details, then it will be difficult for the reader to find the information they’re really looking for.
Keep it clear.
Unlike some types of writing, press releases are intended for a general audience. Don’t expect your readers to know obscure industry jargon. Your writing should be as clear and comprehensible as possible. It’s also a good idea to keep your sentences relatively short. Remember that the point of a press release is to communicate as clearly and quickly as possible. If a press release is difficult to understand, then it isn’t doing its job.
Include at least one or two quotes.
If possible, it’s a good idea to obtain some direct quotes from your client before writing a press release. Quotes can add much-needed life to a press release. They can also help it flow better and read more like a real news story. It’s a good idea to ask for these quotes as soon as you get the assignment, so that you have time to get them from your client and find a good place to include them in the release. If you don’t receive the quotes before you begin writing the press release, you may want to leave a placeholder paragraph so you can easily insert them later.
Keep your press releases succinct.
Some press releases have to include a lot of information, so not all of them can be brief. It’s still important, however, to keep the writing as tight and informative as possible. As a general rule, press releases should not be longer than 1-2 pages. If your press releases tend to ramble, then your readers will start skimming—which means that they could miss important information. The more no-nonsense and to-the-point your press releases are, the better.
Double-check the contact information.
The single most important element of any press release is the contact information. After all, that’s how interested parties will get in touch with your client. If the contact number or email address is wrong, then your client isn’t likely to receive any messages. It’s a good idea to double-check the spelling of every name and proper noun in a press release before submitting it, but it’s impossible to overstate how important it is to get the contact information right.
Do a final read-through before submitting.
Before you send your press release to your client, do one more close edit, and then do one final read-through. This may sound redundant, but it’s important that press releases be as free of errors as possible. Even a small spelling or grammatical error can make a press release look unprofessional. If possible, you may even want to have someone you trust take a quick look at your article before you submit it—especially if you’re new to writing press releases.
Are you looking for that extra boost you need to help you launch your new career as a freelance writer? If so, come to Writers Work for the smart, up-to-date resources you deserve. We’ve helped numerous freelancers get their feet wet and find great writing gigs. Whether you’re ready to write a press release or offer social media marketing services, you’re sure to find writing jobs that intrigue you in our wide-ranging directory of job listings. If you’d like to learn more, visit us today and sign up for a membership!