4 Tips to Writing A Great Press Release

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In today's socially connected world, the power of PR (public relations) can outweigh and outperform the traditional forms of marketing and advertising we have used since the dawn of retail stores. This week, Target ran a new concept commercial during the 57th Grammy Awards. It was a mixture of video package just like the rest of the awards show and store messaging. At first, you were not sure if you were watching the Grammy's or a commercial - quite clever.

The main point is that it kept people's attention versus having them mute or leave the room during a commercial. 

In the same week, a picture was posted on social media with a story from a customer in a Target store. A Target employee not only helped a young man pick out a tie for a job interview, but then commenced to showing him how to tie the tie properly. A nearby customer struck by this amazing service, clicked a photo with their smartphone and posted it (along with a description of what happened) on their social media network. To date, the amount of press that "viral" post has received is exceeding the actual value of the unique commercial run on television. 

This is just one example of many to be told that demonstrate the power of PR to drive customers into your store versus traditional forms of advertising. So what are the keys to writing a great press release that will draw attention?

(And, most importantly, get shared through social networks.) Here are 4 tips to remember when writing your next release.

  1. Have a Killer Headline. You need to grab my attention and do it quickly. The average person receives almost 300 pieces of social media content daily. So it's just as hard to stand out in this crowd as it is on television, radio or the newspaper. 
  1. Summarize the release in 15-20 words at the top. Many journalists will call this the "header" of the document. Immediately under the headline, try and get as many of the who, what, why and where pieces of info in this header. Makes me want to read more. The entire press release should deb no more than 300 - 400 words. 
  2. Be about news and not sales. No one cares you are having a sale unless it is commemorate a special date or event in your town. Too many times we mix the idea of PR with marketing in a bad way by issuing a press release about our sale in the store. It is only newsworthy if there is something for the customer or reader beyond your merchandise. For example, if you are having celebrity appearances or a contest for the best cupcake or the event is a fundraiser for a local charity. In these cases, there is something to discuss beyond your 20% off sale. 
  3. Have a regular rhythm of PR. Retailers who do it right, have a rhythm of posting at least one press release a month and some do even more. If you do one every year or two times a year, it will not have true power for you. Of course, this puts pressure on you to have something going on in your retail store that merits a press release, but then again, that is what today's retail is all about. Otherwise, I can just go online. 

    And the "bonus" tip, always include imagery in your release. Statistics show that the chances of your content being shared increases dramatically when there is an image. And by image, we do not mean your store logo.