In my previous posts, I discussed writing the headline and lead of your news release. Here are tips on writing the body of the release.
Include a quote that moves your story along.
A quote is the only place in the release where you can state an opinion.
Keep the quote restrained and do not directly ask for the “sale.” Saying something like “This widget is wonderful and you should buy it today” won’t cut it. You could say something like “This widget is smaller, lighter and less expensive than competing products.” See the difference?
In some situations, you can include two quotes, preferably from different people.
Even better than quoting someone in the company, quote an “outsider” a customer, business associate or industry analyst.
I have analyzed articles in various publications, comparing how much material is attributed to the company and how much to a third party. Usually about 60 percent of the quotes or attributions come from third parties, with only about 40 percent from the company itself. That proportion is dramatic when you consider the average release contains little third-party material.
Some real sample quotes:
Construction: “In the course of using Construction Communicator on four projects, I suggested several features that would help me be even more productive,” said Brad Fouts, president of Fouts Construction Services Inc. “The new version of this online construction management software gives me everything I asked for and more. I am pleased with the company’s commitment to improving this software, while keeping it focused and easy to use.” (Note that this is a third-party, not the company producing the product.)
Technology: “Memjet’s technology delivers on the promise of inkjet for the broader market, with very fast speeds, high-quality color, and significantly lower purchase and operating costs,” said Robert Palmer, director of printer research for InfoTrends, Inc., a market analyst firm headquartered in Weymouth, MA. “With its strong patent portfolio, Memjet is in a favorable position to expand the market opportunities for inkjet technology. Clearly, this is a technology to watch.” (Another third-party quote)
When discussing products and services, include features but always indicate their benefits. Ask yourself why should people care, and answer that question clearly and convincingly. So instead of simply stating that “the widget weighs only one ounce,” point out that the “widget’s light weight makes it useful for mobile applications.”
Focus on people as much as possible.
Even if you’re promoting a product, focus on its impact on people. For example, discuss how the medication helped a particular person; describe how the new software reduced processing time; or tell how an accountant saved his client hundreds of dollars in taxes.
Stories like these are much more compelling than simply stating your product is the best.
Use subheads to break up copy.
If your release is longer than a page, consider using subheads to improve readability. Make the subheads tell the story, so a reader could get the basic information just by scanning. For example, instead of saying “Features and Benefits,” consider a subhead that highlights the major feature or benefit, such as the “Industry’s Highest Performance.”
Write in journalistic style.
Write so that your release reads like the articles in the magazine or newspapers you’re targeting. That means writing in third person (“they”) instead of second person (“you”). Avoid exclamation points and superlatives like “best,” “unique” or “wonderful.”
I have a lot more to say on this subject which I’ll cover in my next post. In the meantime, you can see examples of releases at my website at www.CommunicationsPlus.net/WritingExamples.html