What Should You Know Before You Write a Press Release?

It seems Vivianne did not like my straying from my roots.

I think I was feeling a little weepy on Friday. A little metaphysical. Which is okay. As Socrates said, “The unexamined life is not worth living.”

Today then, Monday January 14, I’ll get back to business, and focus on one of the four pillars of real estate success, marketing, by showing you how to generate positive press on a tight-budget with press releases.

Press releases are one of the main ways businesses, organizations and individuals share their news with the local and regional press.

In fact, a Fleischman Hilliard marketing and public relations specialist I know recently confessed [and this was not the first time that I’ve heard this] that they’ve often had to rely on press releases when marketing budgets were tight as a main means of generating press.

Trial, error and desperation have helped them to come up with some surefire tips for writing good press releases. I share those tips with you now.

1. Keep the press release content brief

This isn’t the place to send out an 6-page history of your business. Keep the release brief–to one page, if not, two pages at the very most–and accessible and get all the necessary information as close to the lead paragraph as possible.

It is okay to format the document to single space in the body, but only if there is plenty of white space in the header and the margins. If the page looks cramped and crammed, it won’t entice anyone to scan it over to see what it’s all about. Two space between lines then.

2. Write the press release heading

The heading on a press release should be in the upper left hand corner of the page and should include:

  • Release date or, “For Immediate Release”
  • Contact name, title and contact information. If possible, include two contact people and their phone, FAX and e-mail, as well as their titles and company name
  • Brief preview listing of : who, what, where and when – above the headline and before the copy of the release.

3. Create a compelling headline and sub-headline

Next, give the document a good headline and sub-headline. The headline should be creative and intriguing and the sub-headline should be more factual and fill in some of the specifics.

For example, the headline might say, “Local Realtor Saves the Environment with Unusual Festival” and then the sub-headline would say “Sammy Smith’s Water Festival Shares and Spreads Convservation Agenda.”

The harried reader will get a good, tantalizing idea of what the release is about just by scanning those bolded headlines.

4. Develop intriguing body copy

The copy of a press release should read like an article.

My public relations friend said she cannot count the times she’s had her copy lifted line for line from a press release and put in the newspaper. This is fine with her since she knows she’s getting the story out in her own words. For radio, this is especially helpful. A great release will often just be read aloud on air. All the main information should be easily gleaned and accessible. Use quotes in the copy, if possible, and make sure names and particulars are spelled correctly.

5. Include the essence of who you are

After your 3 or 4 paragraph “article” copy, include a statement about you and your company. Even include a headline such as “About Sammy Smith.”

This is the place to write a brief paragraph saying how long you’ve been a real estate agent, what you do and where, how you can help people and your contact information.

6. Closing the press release properly

Include a final, separated paragraph or sentence letting the reader know who to contact for more information or quotes.

If there are photographs, images, or an interview can be set up–put this at the end and in bold or all caps: “Photographs available in jpg.” or “Sammy Smith Available for Interview.”

The important thing to remember in creating press releases that get results is to make the information as interesting and accessible as possible. Like any other type of marketing or public relations or writing, a press release must compete with dozens, if not hundreds, of other stories.

With effort and practice, you can create press releases that stand out and get noticed. If you are interested, check out these articles on copywriting for tips and advice on how to write compelling copy.

[Enjoy, and I hope this article makes sense. *wink wink, nudge nudge*]

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