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How to Write a Good Press Release


Below is a guest post from Brandfolder customer Christopher Glodé, who is General Manager at MapMyFitness. Have your own branding content to share? Email us

More and more companies are reporting worse and worse results in using “old school” conventional PR methods. This usually entails:

  • “Carefully” crafting a press release (endlessly editing by committee), deliberating, and finally…
  • Using an agency who “sort-of” knows your business or products and “sort-of” has great relationships with all of the journalists you’d like to reach to advise you and..
  • Having your agency pitch your press release around to these contacts, produce lackluster results, and present your release pickup in Basketweaving Quarterly (circulation 157,000!!!) as a massive success and…
  • Lighting $500 on fire by putting your release “on the wire” so that it gets “picked up” by Yahoo Finance and the 1,000 other sites that scrape and re-post all press releases.

Sorry for sounding so grim, but for many marketing departments of companies large and small, this is the sad process that surrounds often exciting and newsworthy developments that are almost always the culmination of hours of hard work.

Here are 5 simple ways to make sure you get better results next time:

  1. A/B test your headline, or at least write a provocative one that addresses your customers directly. Nothing is more important than your headline, and yet all too often the headlines of our press releases are chock full of boring in-speak, jargon, and don’t answer the simple question that all marcomm should: how does this help our customers?Wait…how do I A/B test the headline of my press release? There are lots of simple ways to do this but here is a simple formula:
    1. Generate at least 5 diverse alternative headlines (UpWorthy suggests 25)
    2. Compose an email to a statistically relevant but small segment of your customer database. Personalize the copy a bit and use your release as the body of the email (edit as necessary, e.g. remove company boilerplate and press contacts).
    3. Split the list into 5 segments and apply the 5 headline variants as the subject line of your email.
    4. Make sure you have tracking setup for open rate and click-thru-rate (CTR) for your email. SendGrid or MailChimp can handle this for you. CTR for my press release, you say? (keep reading…)
    5. Click send and wait 3 hours.
    6. Compare open rates and CTR and determine the winning variant.
    7. Bonus points if you test the intro and body copy of your release as well, but make sure you isolate your variables (e.g. each headline variant has to be tested with each body copy variant).
    Let me give you some very common examples of terrible headlines:“Company A announces integration with Company B”
    “Company A announces new feature B”
    “Company A announces new corporate event (financing, merger, etc.) B”

    Nobody cares about your company as much as you do (hopefully!), make the news relevant to your customer and explain in provocative language how this news is going to make them more awesome.

  2. Have a prominent call to action! So many press releases go out without an easy way for the reader of them to act. It’s astonishing. Please, PLEASE make it easy for a person who comes across your press release to take action. What action you say? If you aren’t sure what you’d like a person to do with this amazing news you have to share, it’s time to think about why you want to share it. Have a call to action. A phone number. A link to a lead generation form. An email address to contact for more info. Preferably all of the above.MapMyFitness Call To Action
  3. Include interesting and new data. Numbers make a great story, let’s hear your projections or predictions on how this news is going to change the fortunes of your customers, or shape the industry. Interesting and new data is more likely to get repurposed and reframed and re-referenced as it makes it’s way across the web.
  4. Do not let your lawyers edit your press release. By the time they are done there will be nothing interesting left (if this is not the case, your press release is probably not that interesting). It’s better to ask for forgiveness than permission, and if your press release gets you in trouble you’ve succeeded in creating the increasingly rare class of news items that cause anyone to give a damn. Congrats.
  5. Be easy to write about and have rich media easily available: include a link to your contact email, phone number, twitter handle, and press assets. A simple link to the MapMyFitness Brandfolder covers all that for us.

Now that you’ve got a decent press release on your hands, in a later post I’ll talk about how to go about distributing your amazing news.

What’s worked for you? Let us know in the comments.


Paul Arterburn is a Co-founder and the Head of Product at Brandfolder, a Techstars Boulder 2013 company. In this capacity, Paul is responsible for overall product vision and execution. This includes managing the development and design processes, constructing and executing the product roadmap, and deploying code daily. Paul is nearing the magic 10,000 hour mark of coding through the dedication of learning 15 different coding languages over the past 15 years. Daring and scrappy, Paul is ready to leave the Web better than he found it: this is what drove him to found Brandfolder. Me in 3: • Movies people can’t believe I don’t like: Star Trek and Star Wars. • My secret talent: As a songwriter my first songs at age 16 were about all girls, and my latest about just one - my fiancé. • My first invention: A wrestling move dubbed 'The Bob Dole' still used across the state of Nebraska today.

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