3 Easy Steps to Improve Your Press Release

Your press release is boring. Yes, you. But don’t fret—if you’re sending out regular press releases about the goings on of your company, you’ve got the right idea. However, there are a few easy tricks you can use to improve your press release. Those tricks might garner you wider distribution, higher social media engagement and save you the headache of constant follow up emails.

As someone who receives releases everyday, releases that range from the incredible to the un-runnable, I’ve compiled a list of three easy tips to improve your company’s release game right now:

Include images. If you’re not including images in your press releases, you’re shooting yourself in the foot. Research shows that social media posts and web articles that feature images receive significantly higher engagement than those without. According to Social Media Examiner, the difference can be an 87 percent engagement rate rather than four. Yeah, four percent. Websites know that, which is why press releases that come ready-made for distribution should include product or lifestyle images. Sending them out in the first go around can help your release go out more quickly, and as a bonus it can save you the energy of answering follow up requests for images.

Be sure at least one of your images is landscape style. Landscape photos are generally easier to crop and manipulate to fit a website’s formatting needs. #protip: never embed your images in a Word or PDF document (Word destroys image quality, PDFs can be difficult to extract from). Include images in your original email, or include a link to a web address where they can be found.

Tell a story. So many companies make an obvious mistake when they shoot out a press release: they don’t tell a story. Maybe that’s because stories can be risky. What if your target audience doesn’t relate? Not every potential customer is going to relate to every story you tell, but in so many cases, story-based press releases garner more attention than a standard info-dumper. It’s the difference between watching a ball game and looking at a stat sheet after the game. Sure, the same information is technically there—the final score, the player performances—but did you have any fun getting it?

Word up. And I don’t mean Microsoft Word. Your press release is supposed to give you some publicity. It’s supposed to inform the public about your announcement or product, but it can also be a useful tool to provide search engine fuel for your brand. One of the best ways to do that is to play by Google’s SEO guidelines; those guidelines prefer your story to be at least 310 words in length, which isn’t a lot to play with. You can go over that number, but don’t get too carried away. Unless you’re the next Hemingway, 800 words is about the maximum attention span for most online users.

These aren’t the only tricks of the trade you should learn, but they are a start. The basics. Next week, we’ll follow up with an intermediate course on ramping up your press releases.