Small companies don't always know what should be written in press releases. If you want to stay in front of journalists, you should be sending releases all the time. But, it is important to send the right information in your release. To ensure maximum attention to your release, you need to ensure your headline and first paragraph are the best. Read this article for tips.
by Louise Harris
Companies often understand the value of press releases. However, they might not understand the value of the content of releases, specifically the first paragraph or lead. The two most important parts of a press release are the headline and the lead paragraph. The rest of the paragraphs support these two pieces. Therefore, business owners should spend most of their time perfecting the headline and lead.
Generally, the lead should provide the context for the release. It should include who, what, when, where and why. This will determine whether editors are interested or if they toss it into the nearest trash bin or delete button. It also should capture the attention of the reader right away. The lead is more important than these brief statements suggest. Here are some tips to improve your lead.
- Avoid So What? Syndrome – When you write a press release, your first paragraph should be enticing. To do this, it must pass the “So What?” test. This means the editor you target shouldn't read it and say, “So what?” For example, a lead that starts with XYZ Company has started selling pencils will not entice editors past the “So what?” statement. A better lead would be XYZ Company began selling pencils that never have to be sharpened and never break. The second part of the sentence is what makes it new and innovative.
- Be Enticing – Editors don't want dull writing. They want something that will make they read further. “Housing market is on an upswing” is not an enticing lead. “After 10 years of straight declines, the housing market is finally on the upswing” is much more enticing and not dull. From this lead, you could mention what is causing the upturn and what is predicted. Editors love trend stories.
- Capture Attention Quickly – Even before the current world, editors wanted to know what to expect from a release as quickly as possible. That is why the lead was so important. However, today, the lead is more important because attention spans are so much more shorter than 20 years ago. Therefore, you have to give as much information in that lead as possible. If you fail to capture their attention in seconds, your press release will be tossed.
- Be Different – Companies that are different will attract attention. Therefore, if you can take the same topic but rework it into an exciting new idea, you will be more successful in attracting attention. You show your differences in the first paragraph. Startups and entrepreneurs will have innovative ideas to promote, but they must write the lead in such a way that reflects that innovation or it will not be viewed.
- Give Information – The lead is meant to provide information quickly. In journalism school, writers are taught the “inverted pyramid.” Basically, it means that you provide important information up front and as you continue in the release, less and less information is necessary. Therefore, if an editor stops reading, he or she has what is needed up front. If you hold the important information to the end, your company news will not be accepted.
The lead is the most important paragraph in your release. If you give information quickly and capture editors' attention, you will be able to have them read your release.
If you are wondering whether your lead is correct, the experts at Faselis can give you an evaluation. The company also can coach you on how to make the release more enticing. Faselis Growth helps PR Pros with services for small companies and startups. You can check Faselis PR features on Faselis Growth.