I wince at 99.99 percent of the press releases I receive daily.
That's because 99.99 percent look like sloppy cut-and-paste jobs that have nothing to do with the Daily Fix and its readers, and everything to do with the sender, the sender, and, oh, right, the sender. Reading a press release that doesn't make me wince is rare—though not impossible.
Now and then, I receive press releases that are smart, audience-focused, brief, and interesting. So, for this week's post, I thought I'd stay on the sunny side of the street and share seven traits about press releases that do get read:
1. A zippy email subject line.
The email subject line often sets the tone for the email I am about to skim. A subject line that captures (positive) attention is one that highlights the main focus of the article and why readers should care about that focus. Remember: The subject line isn't a last-minute addition to your emailed press release. The subject line is the friend that will either get you into the party or get the door slammed on your face. Treat your friend well.
[RELATED: Learn to master the golden rules of PR writing at our PR Writers Summit.]
2. A decent greeting.
Personalization would be fantastic. A "Hello, Veronica" beats a "Hi, There" any day. (However, my expectations are real, and most days, I receive emails from people addressing Victoria, Valerie, Vanessa, Sir/Madame, Blog Editor, Admin, Editor, Veronicaj, and Jarski.) Any greeting that shows that the sender did take time to read the guidelines for blog submissions or to understand the Daily Fix audience puts me in a good mood right away. So, when writing your press releases, take time to think about how you will address the reader.
3. Clean, crisp lines.
I receive myriad emails that have the greeting in a tiny font and the rest of the piece in a larger, bold font. Sometimes, the emails are in different colors or fonts. Clearly, my name was swapped out in a form email. I don't expect people to handcraft every email to me, but, sheesh, at least don't be obvious about sending a form letter.
A fantastic press release doesn't look like a press release. Instead, a fabulous press release looks like a quick, interesting email from someone who knows his stuff. The "official" press release (if it really has to be included at all) is an attachment or added to the bottom of an otherwise intriguing email.
4. Well-written summary of what's up.
An elevator pitch is the best kind of pitch. For the digital world, imagine your elevator pitch is a tweet. Just tell me quickly and briefly why the news your about to share matters. What's your point? And why should I care about it?
5. Bullet points.
Bullet points make for an easier, clearer read. Also, they demonstrate whether the author knows the most important details of the press release. If someone can't write brief bullet points about their content, that person does not know his content. If you write good bullet points, you're also very quotable, which is always a plus.
6. An invitation to talk more.
One of my favorite endings to any email or press release is: "If you've any ideas of how this can be a better fit for the Daily Fix, please feel free to email me." I love that line. Those emails respect the reader's time and also demonstrate a willingness to create content that better suits the audience.
7. A shareable piece of content.
Remember when we were kids who attended birthday parties and received little goody bags? A good press release makes you feel like you've received something fun and captivating. So, when writing a press release, be sure to include information regarding where to get additional content for the readers. For example, a good press release will mention a related infographic available for download, a downloadable whitepaper, or even a cartoon or photo of the newsworthy event.
Remember, when you're writing a press release, you are writing for a person, not a building. If you're really stuck on how to approach that person, imagine you're writing for your neighbor, who knows nothing about your business and will end the conversation if you get too long-winded or boring. Always write for people.
A version of this article first appeared on MarketingProfs.