I've finally learned how to do it - get press releases picked up regularly in our rapidly changing media world. My coach at Business Wire has been a huge help. Had a release go out recently on A Rubik's Cube Contest and it did really well.
Why? A few key tips.
Use bullets. About paragraph 3 of the release - no more than 3 or 4 to quickly summarize what's been written.
Use your brand names as much as you can. We are all told to identify key words and pepper them throughout the release. That's good advice but don't forget name brands that are searched all time. Use all the brand names you can. If you can link your release to a well searched brand name - do it. Is your client partnering with name brand companies? Throw them in a couple of times and highlight them.
Connect those you are quoting to their bios - Our first thought is to send media to the web site but send them to the bio. That way readers can quickly find out who your client is, what her credentials are, and why they should care.
Use the news in your industry to your advantage. If it's spring and your product has a connection to spring break use it. If there's a government program ending or announced in your industry figure out a way to link to it. This is PR common sense but often we forget to think news - news - news. Without that hook, you're just another Brick in the Wall.
Use a lot of links. - 2-3 per paragraph if you can. Your goal is to get release readers to your web site and a landing page that makes them want more. Entice them all the way through the release with different links to different sections. You can't see into a reporter's mind - but you can give them a great many options to choose from.
Keep it short. We all have lost our attention spans. Tell me what I need to know - why it matters and then you're done. The days of long quotes to please the client are over. Tell them it will hurt pick-up. That's what they are paying you for.
Write something that can be easily converted to an article. Your release will often be read by a computer or a kid who decides whether or not it's worth listing as an article. You want that designation in the URL so write for it. If your release has a lot of gunk in it - and many of them do - and really needs to be edited, it won't happen.