Category Archives: Press Release Writing

Josh’s Secrets to Headline Writing

Oh-My-Headline-300x248Hello, everyone. My name is Josh Hurst, and I am the senior writer on the Grammar Chic team. Any time between the hours of 8 and 5, you can find me in my home office, listening to Spotify, sipping coffee, and writing blogs, press releases, social media content, and more.

But today, it’s a very different kind of writing project I want to talk about: Headline writing. As recently as yesterday one of my clients called me and said he had a full website that was written, coded, and ready to launch—all save for one key element: He needed some catchy, attention-grabbing headlines at the top of each page.

“Can you work some of your headline magic?” he asked me.

Now, let me be clear in saying that I do not necessarily fancy myself a headline magician, and the headline-writing secrets I’m about to offer you are in fact not secrets at all: They’re just common sense.

With that said, I do think headlines are significant, and I spend about as much time thinking about the headline as any other part of the content I write. Simply put: If you don’t have a compelling headline on your Web page, the rest of the content doesn’t really matter, because nobody’s going to read it.

Short, snappy, value-driven headlines draw readers in—but how do you write them?

5 Rules for Headline Writing

Here are five pointers I’d offer to anyone who wants to develop their own headline writing magic.

  1. Don’t get cute. You know the old rule of writing: Always avoid annoying alliteration. Your headlines should be snappy and they may even be clever, but remember that the point is ultimately to summarize your content and to convey value. Don’t make your headlines too cute or too clever for their own good with dumb gimmicks, puns, alliteration, or the like.
  2. Don’t overpunctuate. This may sound silly, but I see a lot of headlines that come laden with punctuation—sometimes forming two or even three full sentences in the span of a single headline! You probably want to avoid the parentheticals and any superfluous pauses or clauses. Punctuation can slow the reader down, and if you find yourself needing a lot of it, you’re probably writing overly complicated headlines anyway.
  3. Don’t forget the pain points. That’s where your headlines should emanate from: What are your reader’s problems, and how are you going to position your headline as a solution? That’s the most important part of the headline: It needs to communicate value and benefit to the reader.
  4. Don’t be passive. I like to start headlines with strong action words whenever I can: Uncover. Explore. Experience. Why state facts when you could actually create energy and momentum with a strong, specific verb?
  5. Don’t overthink it. Finally… remember that the mission of the headline writer is really pretty simple. Again: Think value, pain points, specifics. You want to show your readers that there’s something to be gained from reading further. Sometimes the best headlines are the simplest, most direct ones, then. Don’t force yourself to be wordier or more sophisticated than the situation calls for.

Good luck with those headlines, then—and if you do need further assistance, call the Grammar Chic team: 803-831-7444, or on the Web at www.grammarchic.net.

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Three Reasons You Should Still Send Press Releases

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The glory days of the press release as a meaningful SEO implement may be over; but the usefulness of writing and distributing press releases continues—and savvy business owners take advantage of it.

There are a number of options available for those who wish to create company press releases, and the best one is to share actual, relevant company news: A new product, a new hire, involvement with a charity or non-profit, extended holiday hours, special discounts and promotions. If there isn’t any company news to share, don’t worry: You can always send out a “hot topic” press release, weighing in on trends within your industry or perhaps commenting on news that’s relevant to your vertical.

But what we really want to consider today isn’t the how, but the why. Why should business owners continue to send out periodic press releases—not necessarily every day but every quarter or every six months? What are the benefits to be gleaned?

Real companies have real news to share.

The first reason to share press releases is that it lends legitimacy to your company; it proves it to be a thriving business with real goals and true momentum.

Real businesses accomplish things. They have news worth sharing—and they’re more than happy to disseminate that news to their customers and clients. A lot of big companies, especially public ones, have “newsroom” sections of their websites, compiling all the latest company updates.

A company that does not share its news, meanwhile, can seem stagnant. People might wonder if you’re even still in business.

Press releases get your name out there.

Another reason to invest in press releases: It gets your company’s name into circulation, and out there in front of readers.

This happens not just through the typical PR distribution channels, but also when you share your press release on social media, in company e-mail newsletters—you name it. A press release is another piece of content, another piece of marketing collateral your company can implement to its advantage.

Press releases prove your industry involvement.

A final point: Press releases show you to be an active player in your industry—especially when you use them to comment on issues that affect your vertical or niche more broadly. Thus, press releases can be platforms for building industry authority and establishing thought leadership. They prove to your customers and clients that you know what you’re talking about.

All that’s left now is for you to get writing, crafting that killer press release—or, of course, to call the Grammar Chic writing and marketing team. We can be reached at 803-831-7444, or www.grammarchic.net.

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What Does it Take to Make a Press Release Newsworthy?

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There is a lot of confusion out there about the nature and merit of the press release—and it’s worth pausing for a moment to clear some of it up.

You may have heard it said that the press release is dead—that it’s an old-fashioned marketing gimmick, and frankly not worth the financial investment. The Grammar Chic, Inc. team obviously doesn’t feel this way: Not only do we offer press release writing services for many of our clients, but we distribute a new company press release every single week, and will readily attest that the ROI is there.

Different Uses

The stigma against press releases comes from their status as a one-time SEO gimmick. Way back when—as in, five years ago—companies could use press releases, loaded with keywords, to propel their links to the top of the Google search engine results page. It was sort of an SEO cheat that Google has wisely corrected; no longer can you use fraudulent of lackluster press releases simply to give SEO juice to your website. So yes, fair enough: As an SEO gimmick, the press release really is dead.

But what about building actual brand buzz? Winning the attention of bloggers and members of the press, and earning website traffic—legitimately—as a result? What about getting your company’s name out there in Google News searches, and keeping your customers informed about what’s going on with your company?

Read All About It

For all of these purposes, a press release can still prove mightily effective. The trick is to ensure that you’re not using it as an SEO ploy, but rather that you’re actually using your press release the way press releases are meant to be used—that is, using it to share actual news that someone might be interested in reading and sharing.

It’s like we say about blogs, social media posts, and even your business website: The important thing is offering something of value, which in this case means something newsworthy. Some examples of newsworthy press release topics include:

–          Actual company news, like new jobs created, extended hours, a new location, an award won, or something like that.

–          A seasonal/temporary promotion or sale.

–          The launch of a new company website or blog.

–          A commentary on industry trends. For this style of press release, it’s important to find an actual hot topic—a trend or news story within your industry—and offer a genuinely substantive take on it. A recent Grammar Chic post, for instance, piggybacked off a news article about the summer job search doldrums, and offers some summer-specific resume writing tips for jobseekers.

An interesting and informative press release can serve the save function as an interesting and informative blog post—establishing your brand’s authority or simply spreading the word about what you offer to customers. To learn more, contact the Grammar Chic press release writing team today: Visit http://www.grammarchic.net, or call 803-831-7444.

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Do Press Releases Still Matter?

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There are new business books written every day, it seems, and each new entry in the genre comes with the promise that it will completely revolutionize everything you’ve ever known to be true about entrepreneurship. Needless to say, the bulk of these books fail to deliver, but there is one widely buzzed-about new book—titled Rework, co-authored by 37signals founders Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson—that actually packs some real revelations and useful provocations into its slim frame.

While many of the propositions in Rework are most helpful, there is one assertion that warrants some close scrutiny. In the book, Fried and Hansson recommend that companies do away with press releases, claiming that the PR is a thing of antiquity—that it is not only dated, but that it effectively amounts to pure spam.

Is there any merit to this claim? The mere fact that press releases continue to be regularly deployed by companies such as Google (and by The White House) makes it plain that the PR has hardly gone the way of the dinosaurs. Moreover, there are several important—and perhaps surprising—benefits that press releases can bring to your company’s content marketing strategy.

What Press Releases Can Do for Your Brand

Why would your brand invest in weekly, monthly, or quarterly press releases? There are several reasons:

  • While recent updates to Google’s search algorithms have robbed press releases of some of their SEO muscle, a good press release is still invaluable as searchable online collateral.  When someone searches for your company name or the name of one of your products, a press release is very much able to provide some ranking fodder (especially in Google News searches), which in turn gives you further power to control what search engine users learn about your business.
  • Press releases can provide you with regular content updates for your website’s online press room, or company news page. This is invaluable, because it proves to those visiting your company website that your business remains active and prosperous. (By contrast, a company website that hasn’t been updated in two years may leave visitors wondering if the company is still in business at all.)
  • A press release represents a more formal kind of writing—compared to a dashed-off Facebook update, for instance—and as such, it forces you to think more carefully about the messaging you use for talking about your company. The simple act of crafting a press release brings greater focus to your online branding.
  • A well-written press release conveys that your company is marked by teamwork and unity of vision; after all, a company that has no idea what it’s doing, or is falling apart at the seams, could hardly be expected to draft a truly coherent and compelling document.
  • Finally, a press release is a key part of your company’s brand experience; much like your logo, the color scheme on your website, and your mission statement, the language you use in your press release conveys something of your company’s identity. Neglecting this important component is no different than leaving your business slogan off the company website, or omitting the logo from your business cards.

Press releases have been around long enough that they’re probably not going to pass for flashy or trendy any time soon—but they nevertheless remain key tools in any content marketing toolbox.

The team at Grammar Chic specializes in a variety of professional writing and editing services. For more information about how we can help you, visit www.grammarchic.net or call 803-831-7444. We also invite you to follow us on Twitter @GrammarChicInc for the latest in writing and editing tips and to give a “like” to our Facebook page. Text GRAMMARCHIC to 22828 for a special offer.

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Tips for Making Your Press Release Pop

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Press releases are a crucial part of any successful public relations strategy, but make no mistake about it: these documents don’t have to be boring. While they’re meant to get the facts out quickly, there is still plenty of room for personality and flare. Whether you’re talking about a new product launch, a major event, or other important parts of an organization, there’s a way to leave your reader intrigued.

What do the most effective press releases have in common?

They use their headline to quickly capture the reader’s attention

While accuracy counts, you also want your press release to stand out. You can feel pretty sure that the recipient of your release has seen at least ten others that day, so you want to make sure that your title gives that person a reason to keep reading. Like any magazine article or news headline, information that is presented in an interesting way will triumph over a dull, “Just the facts, ma’am” approach.

Make the information clear

While some of your favorite books may wait until the end to reveal what they’re really about, this strategy proves ineffective when it comes to writing a press release. To make the most out of the document, get right to the point. The most important information should sit right in the first paragraph of your release. Present it in a compelling way, but don’t make a reader have to dig for it.

Give real information

People read these documents looking for real information, so make sure you give it to them. Support your statement with statistics and proof. If you’re talking about a new trend, give some numbers on this development. If you’re talking about the popularity of a new product, provide details about how many units were sold.

Edit, edit, edit

Unfortunately, even a single error in a press release can hurt your credibility. Before you distribute the document, proofread it thoroughly. You’ll also want to get another set of eyes on it to ensure that it truly is flawless.

Don’t forget quotes

While facts and figures are important, people also enjoy reading quotes from others. If you can get a statement from someone directly involved in the product or event, do so. This helps to add another important dimension to your release.

Make sure you include your contact information

Many a successful press release has gone awry when the writer forgot to include contact information. Make it easy for a reader to find an e-mail address or phone number if they want more information about the subject.

Make it snappy

People are pressed for time; for this reason, you’ll want to keep your release succinct. Aim to make it one page, though two pages is an acceptable maximum. Provide the most pertinent and compelling information, and skip any unnecessary details.

With that said, you’ll also want to offer up links to extra information that you don’t have room to include in the actual press release. This may include a link to a company website, or more details about your organization’s mission.

The team at Grammar Chic specializes in a variety of professional writing and editing services. For more information about how we can help you, visit www.grammarchic.net or call 803-831-7444. We also invite you to follow us on Twitter @GrammarChicInc for the latest in writing and editing tips and to give a “like” to our Facebook page. Text GRAMMARCHIC to 22828 for a special offer.

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Crafting an Effective Press Release by Avoiding Common Errors

Randomly opened Online News Web sites on Computer Screen.

There are many tactics online marketers use as they relate to spreading a message, attracting attention to a brand and improving search engine rankings.  One popular method is through the distribution of press releases or “hot-topic news items” about an individual or a company.  Press releases, in general, are very valuable for use online because of their ability to immediately change, improve and modify search engine rankings.  However, in order to get the most out of a press release, you simply cannot write one haphazardly and without a certain amount of strategy.  You must decide on the goals of your press release and write accordingly.

The Use of Press Releases in Online Marketing

Distributing a press release that was simply thrown together can prove harmful to a brand or online message.  Take the following common errors into consideration when crafting the structure and content of your press release:

  • Writing about a topic that isn’t news.  First off, it’s very hard for some individuals or companies to truly identify what is classified as news and what is not.  While it is often apparent what to write about (a sale or special offer, a new product, an award or honor presented to an executive of the company, etc.), you may find yourself grasping for a suitable topic if you have no new product launches or promotions to share.  Ultimately, you must be able to present an angle that is newsworthy and relevant.  This is the only way your release will gain any traction online or be picked up by other media outlets.
  • Using a casual or informal tone not up to par with journalistic standards and/or writing in the first or second person.  No matter what your release is discussing, you must keep it high level and professional.  The verbiage you use must be commanding and be delivered in an authoritative voice.  The same can be said about using a first or second person perspective.  A press release must always be delivered in the third person and you have to be very careful to double and triple check this when you are proofing and getting ready to distribute the release.  Many times, writers have a tendency to switch perspectives and, while it is okay to use the first person point of view in a direct quote, you should make sure that you switch back to third person as soon as you are done quoting a source.
  • Not understanding or discounting the value of a professional distribution service.  Many first time press release writers or amateur marketers truly do not realize the value of utilizing a professional PR wire service, such as PRWeb, PR Newswire, etc., until it is too late. Instead they believe that their press release will easily get picked up by sending it to a TV station or newspaper directly.  Let me be the first to say that this is not a sound strategy and that it is unlikely, except in the case of very small, local markets (I’m talking small towns and a local paper, not a large media market) that you will get any traction or attention for your release.  Of course, a PR wire service also comes with a cost and, if you are on a tight budget, it is true that this might not be feasible right off the bat.  However, I only say this because I have seen many individuals take the press releases my team at Grammar Chic writes and come back to me frustrated and disappointed with their results after trying to distribute it on their own.  Ultimately, if you plan on utilizing a PR wire service, realize that the reason you are paying a steep price is because they are providing you with a way of immediately getting in touch with their vast network of editors, copy desks, bloggers, journalists and the like.  As such, in order to take advantage of this network and get the most out of your press release distribution, simply put, you must spend money to make money.

In closing, press releases and their corresponding distribution strategies are excellent tools in the arsenal of any online marketer, businessperson or individual—at least when they are executed correctly. If you are just getting started in the world of press release writing or if you have been working at this angle, but have not yet seen results and need some help, reach out to Grammar Chic, Inc. by calling 803-831-7444 today or visiting www.grammarchic.net.  Our team of professional press release writers can help you draft and distribute a press release that highlights your brand or news effectively and gets results!

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Write a Press Release the Right Way by Avoiding Pitfalls

News on a laptop computer isolated on white

In today’s fast-paced world, nothing can prove more beneficial to a company than staying relevant within the public eye. Although there are many online marketing strategies that can help a business increase its presence on the Internet, the power of news has continued to prove an invaluable factor in branding. In professional terms, this news typically comes from press releases—an official public statement that provides a viewpoint, event or response directly from a business.

Although a countless number of press releases are thrust into the online world each day, those that are intriguing, concise and informative always rise to the top. As such, one can reason that the stronger the press release, the greater exposure a company or professional will experience. At Grammar Chic, writers read and write a vast amount of press releases—these documents may seem similar in regards to structure, but our staff has learned that there are certain things to avoid when creating a press release.

Those who want to learn what pitfalls to avoid when creating a powerful press release should note the following:

  • Press Releases Are Not Advertisements

When it comes to brand exposure, there is a time and place for pure promotional goodness—press releases are not meant for that kind of mentality. While a press release can help increase the exposure of a brand, it must always highlight a relevant subject that offers some sort of information to the public. Without the element of news, a press release is going to simply read as an advertisement. Forming such a promotionally-focused statement will not only turn readers off, but a lot of news agencies may reject the material in the first place.

  • Press Releases Are To Remain Objective

At Grammar Chic, our writers often write press releases with an isolated approach. Although we work to help our client’s craft powerful statements, it is our responsibility to make sure that all personal opinions are removed from the document. Just as a proper news story should not contain subjective viewpoints, press releases should only present the facts.

While direct insight and opinions are great components of a strong press release, it is best to properly quote and cite where such views originated. Without staying objective, readers can become turned off of the business, especially if the biased tone does not fall in line with their own set of beliefs.

  • Press Releases Must Remain Concise and Direct

A good press release always leaves a reader wanting to know more about a company or figure. However, writers should never skimp on the important details of a particular story. For that reason, it is important for a press release to quickly get to the overall message. Most of the time, the main points are initially addressed in the headline and are later elaborated on in the body.

Like any written work, a good press release must display optimal flow that answers the necessary “who,” “what,” “when,” “where” and “why” questions. Those who are venturing into the world of press releases should always try to stay focused and not include irrelevant information. As a pointer, writers should always keep in mind what facts are most important for the public to grasp and to write around those themes.

  • Press Releases Should Always Be News-Worthy

As noted above, news is one of the most powerful sources of information when it comes to influencing the public perception of a business, event or personality. In the same respect, press releases can have just as much strength in regards to informing readers. However, press release writers should keep in mind that if a press release cannot “inform,” then there really is no purpose to producing the statement.

Sometimes it can prove difficult to find ways to produce a news-worthy story, especially if press releases are new additions to a company’s online marketing strategy. In these instances, writers must put on their creative thinking caps and find a way to bring out the news of a company. New hires, responses to relevant news stories, product releases and industry insight can all prove great angles for a press release that is not only refreshing, but also news-worthy.

Making the Most of a Permanent Statement

One factor about press releases that many professionals do not realize is that once the statements are published, they are available for the public to see and cannot disappear. In some cases, a retraction may be required, but these incidents can prove embarrassing, costly and inconvenient to those who wrote the original release. In order to make the most of a press statement, professionals must approach these statements with a sense of authenticity and confidence.

Although press releases can prove a valuable asset to a company, it is also necessary to realize that there are many pitfalls that can cause problems throughout the process. For those that may need help overcoming these pitfalls—or simply creating a strong press release—the writers at Grammar Chic, Inc. are ready to assist! Contact us today for more information on how we can help craft powerful statements that could boost your online appeal.

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