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8 Tips for Writing a Press Release Effectively

8 Tips for Writing a Press Release Effectively

Your business or organization has news to share, but you’re unsure how to spread the word. Press releases are an ideal and easy way to get out the word about your business’s announcement, whether it’s a building project, upcoming event, important transaction, new hire or promotion. Putting together a press release doesn’t need to be daunting. Here are eight tips to writing a press release effectively:

1. Write a good headline

Journalists get hundreds of emails daily. To make your press release stand out from the crowd, you need a catchy but informative headline. Keep your headline to less than six words—you can always add a subhead—and make sure it contains the most important piece of information. Don’t be boring and say, “Company A hires worker.” Instead say, “Company A adds Jane Smith for key role.” As to style, don’t forget to center and bold the headline. Make it about 20 points. If adding a subhead, put it in italics (and not bold) and make it about 16 or 17 points.

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2. Start off right

Begin the press release with the city and state where your organization is located. Start off with that information and then add a dash—from there you can go right into the release.

3. Don’t bury the lead

For journalists, the lead is the main point of the story. In a press release, make sure the main point and all the key information are included in that first paragraph. You can’t guarantee that that reader will go further than that, so make sure it includes the need-to-know information. The second and third paragraphs should contain secondary and supporting information.

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4. Remember the Five Ws

An effective press release needs to answer the what, when, who, where and why. What is happening? Where and when? Why is it happening? Who’s involved? A good press release must include this information. Without it, the reader will hit delete. Also, if it works, include the “H”—how is something happening? These are all essential good writing tips.

5. Use the right style

Write a press release as a news story. Keep sentences short and simple. Don’t use jargon or terms that the average person wouldn’t understand. Focus on facts and information—remember you want the reporter receiving your press release to understand it’s news. Another key element—be sure to run a spell check and read it thoroughly before sending. Reporters will immediately hit the delete button if they get a release full of errors.

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6. Include a quote

Reporters like quotes, so seriously consider including one in your press release. Whether it’s from the company president or a fundraising chair (if the release is about an upcoming event), make sure the quote sounds real and not canned. Read it aloud and make sure it sounds like it’s something a real person would actually say. Another tip about quotes: Don’t make them too long. Remember, it needs to sound like someone actually said it—if it has four long sentences in it, edit it down.

7. Include contact information

You need to make it easy for the reporter to contact you for more information or if he or she has additional questions. Be sure to include your contact name, email, and phone number, or include that information for a key person involved with the company’s news. It’s also good to include website addresses embedded right in the press release so reporters can check that out for more information. Don’t forget to include the company’s Twitter handle or Facebook page address, too.

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8. End on the right note

Press releases traditionally end with three ###s. It signifies to the reporter that the release has come to an end. By including that, you’re demonstrating to the reporter that you understand how news releases work and he or she is bound to take you more seriously.

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Last Updated on July 21, 2021

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

The Importance of Reminders (And How to Make a Reminder Work)

No matter how well you set up your todo list and calendar, you aren’t going to get things done unless you have a reliable way of reminding yourself to actually do them.

Anyone who’s spent an hour writing up the perfect grocery list only to realize at the store that they forgot to bring the list understands the importance of reminders.

Reminders of some sort or another are what turn a collection of paper goods or web services into what David Allen calls a “trusted system.”[1]

A lot of people resist getting better organized. No matter what kind of chaotic mess, their lives are on a day-to-day basis because they know themselves well enough to know that there’s after all that work they’ll probably forget to take their lists with them when it matters most.

Fortunately, there are ways to make sure we remember to check our lists — and to remember to do the things we need to do, whether they’re on a list or not.

In most cases, we need a lot of pushing at first, for example by making a reminder, but eventually we build up enough momentum that doing what needs doing becomes a habit — not an exception.

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From Creating Reminders to Building Habits

A habit is any act we engage in automatically without thinking about it.

For example, when you brush your teeth, you don’t have to think about every single step from start to finish; once you stagger up to the sink, habit takes over (and, really, habit got you to the sink in the first place) and you find yourself putting toothpaste on your toothbrush, putting the toothbrush in your mouth (and never your ear!), spitting, rinsing, and so on without any conscious effort at all.

This is a good thing because if you’re anything like me, you’re not even capable of conscious thought when you’re brushing your teeth.

The good news is you already have a whole set of productivity habits you’ve built up over the course of your life. The bad news is, a lot of them aren’t very good habits.

That quick game Frogger to “loosen you up” before you get working, that always ends up being 6 hours of Frogger –– that’s a habit. And as you know, habits like that can be hard to break — which is one of the reasons why habits are so important in the first place.

Once you’ve replaced an unproductive habit with a more productive one, the new habit will be just as hard to break as the old one was. Getting there, though, can be a chore!

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The old saw about anything you do for 21 days becoming a habit has been pretty much discredited, but there is a kernel of truth there — anything you do long enough becomes an ingrained behavior, a habit. Some people pick up habits quickly, others over a longer time span, but eventually, the behaviors become automatic.

Building productive habits, then, is a matter of repeating a desired behavior over a long enough period of time that you start doing it without thinking.

But how do you remember to do that? And what about the things that don’t need to be habits — the one-off events, like taking your paycheck stubs to your mortgage banker or making a particular phone call?

The trick to reminding yourself often enough for something to become a habit, or just that one time that you need to do something, is to interrupt yourself in some way in a way that triggers the desired behavior.

The Wonderful Thing About Triggers — Reminders

A trigger is anything that you put “in your way” to remind you to do something. The best triggers are related in some way to the behavior you want to produce.

For instance, if you want to remember to take something to work that you wouldn’t normally take, you might place it in front of the door so you have to pick it up to get out of your house.

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But anything that catches your attention and reminds you to do something can be a trigger. An alarm clock or kitchen timer is a perfect example — when the bell rings, you know to wake up or take the quiche out of the oven. (Hopefully you remember which trigger goes with which behavior!)

If you want to instill a habit, the thing to do is to place a trigger in your path to remind you to do whatever it is you’re trying to make into a habit — and keep it there until you realize that you’ve already done the thing it’s supposed to remind you of.

For instance, a post-it saying “count your calories” placed on the refrigerator door (or maybe on your favorite sugary snack itself)  can help you remember that you’re supposed to be cutting back — until one day you realize that you don’t need to be reminded anymore.

These triggers all require a lot of forethought, though — you have to remember that you need to remember something in the first place.

For a lot of tasks, the best reminder is one that’s completely automated — you set it up and then forget about it, trusting the trigger to pop up when you need it.

How to Make a Reminder Works for You

Computers and ubiquity of mobile Internet-connected devices make it possible to set up automatic triggers for just about anything.

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Desktop software like Outlook will pop up reminders on your desktop screen, and most online services go an extra step and send reminders via email or SMS text message — just the thing to keep you on track. Sandy, for example, just does automatic reminders.

Automated reminders can help you build habits — but it can also help you remember things that are too important to be trusted even to habit. Diabetics who need to take their insulin, HIV patients whose medication must be taken at an exact time in a precise order, phone calls that have to be made exactly on time, and other crucial events require triggers even when the habit is already in place.

My advice is to set reminders for just about everything — have them sent to your mobile phone in some way (either through a built-in calendar or an online service that sends updates) so you never have to think about it — and never have to worry about forgetting.

Your weekly review is a good time to enter new reminders for the coming weeks or months. I simply don’t want to think about what I’m supposed to be doing; I want to be reminded so I can think just about actually doing it.

I tend to use my calendar for reminders, mostly, though I do like Sandy quite a bit.

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Featured photo credit: Unsplash via unsplash.com

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Reference

[1] Getting Things Done: Trusted System

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