As a freelance writer, you might be asked to write press releases. Here are a few tips.
The press release is an interesting animal in this Internet age. Instead of being sent across a wire and possibly picked up and put into various newspapers, a press release is blasted through various services. Once again, media outlets can decide what they will pick up and run with, but press releases now have the advantage of at least being published somewhere. And, if nothing else, you at least get a link, and the press release is searchable online.
As a freelance writer, you might have clients come to you, asking to write a press release. While composing your press release, here are a few things to keep in mind:
- Effective press releases are newsworthy: Remember the 8 primary news values? You'll need those as you write a press release. A press release needs to have some sort of newsworthy angle that you can use to show that you actually have news. This can also include a tip sheet, which can be one way to turn something a little mundane into a newsworthy event.
- Write in a “newsy” tone: Use a “newsy” tone for your press release. You'll want to start with a brief description of the news, putting that first, and then include information about who is announcing it. The point of a press release is to make less work for the media people and journalists. If it seems professional and “newsy” in tone, it's more likely to be picked up. And you want to lead with the news, or you end up turning everyone off.
- Remember SEO: Since press releases go out online, you have to remember the Search Engine Optimization. The headline, at the very least, needs to be optimized and shareable.
Look online for samples of press releases before you start to get an idea of how to structure your press release, and how to write it. Problogger also offers a great resource on crafting a solid press release that is more likely to be picked up.
How Should You Frame Your Press Release Writing Service?
Depending on how you want to approach it, there are different ways to frame your press release writing service. I occasionally write press releases, but it's not something I do very often, and I don't advertise that I do it. Writing a press release is a bit more difficult than writing a blog post (at least I think so), and it can take a lot more time, if you need to fiddle with it. Some wire services that send out press releases are very picky about what they send out, so you might need to make adjustments a few times. I charge twice as much for a press release as I do for a blog post.
My services are limited to writing the press release as well. As a freelance writer, I make it clear that I am not going to get the press release distributed. There are many services that distribute press releases free, as well as for a fee. Some services cost upward of $400 to get a “full package” of press release distribution. However, it's important to remember that these services can't guarantee that your press release will, in fact, be picked up.
This is one of the reasons that I just offer the writing services. I make it clear that I am not responsible for distribution, and I am certainly not responsible for seeing that the press release is picked up by major media outlets. However, I am willing to revise a release until it is accepted by whatever service the client is using to send out the press release.
Figure out what you are willing to do, and set a rate based on that. Since I really like writing, and am not fond of much else in the realm of the Internet and promotion, I try to stay away from many non-writing activities related to the Internet — especially as it relates to providing services to clients. However, for the go-getter freelance writer, it might be worth it to consider adding other services to press release writing.