5 Ways to Kill a Press Release (And Not in a Good Way)

Press releases are the cornerstones of newsworthy media reports. Long before you see a particular breaking news report or read a first-page headlining newspaper story, it originated with a well-developed press release. However, there is a method to high-quality press releases that you must master if you want to write one yourself. You may already be familiar with the right things to do, but here are ____ ways you can immediately destroy the quality of any press release.

Write a Weak and Longwinded Introduction

The first paragraph of the press release must be one of the strongest paragraphs. It should grab the reader’s attention and give them enough key information right way to compel them to keep reading. It may seem like an old-fashioned method, but it is imperative to identify the “5 W’s” – What, Who, Where, When and Why – in your introductory paragraph. Trying to “build up” to those key points as if you are telling a story will kill your entire press release.

Use the First-Person Perspective

You should never write a press release from a first-person perspective. A press release is supposed to represent fact-based information from a third-party point of view. Even if you have a personal connection to the subject of the story, leave that connection as far away from the content as possible. Addressing the topic from a third-party point of view effectively prepares and structures it for media usage. Using a first-person perspective will require extensive rewrites and revisions – which may send your entire story to the cutting room floor.

Go Beyond a Reasonable Word Count

The beauty of a press release is its simplicity and brevity. It does not need a lot of words to make a solid point – especially if it sticks to the facts from beginning to end. The ideal press release should not exceed 600-800 words.

It is imperative to remember that your readers will not focus on every single word in your release. Most readers will get everything that they need to know from the well-developed introductory paragraph that outlines the “5 W’s.” To make your content more readable when it must be a little lengthier than expected, use subheadings and bulleted lists to break it up without compromising the overall structure.

Fire Ammunition at Competitors

Do not use your press release as a firing range to practice taking shots at your competitors. You have already set the stage for the “5 W’s” of your story in the introduction. Derailing your primary message with subtle jabs at your competitors will disengage your readers and possibly damage the reputation and credibility of your company. Always keep in mind that press releases are intended to be factual and nonbiased. Firing shots at competitors makes it clear to readers that your press release missed both of those marks.

Send the Release to the Masses

You may have a well-crafted press release that hits every mark beautifully from beginning to end. How you choose to distribute that release, however, is a still a life-or-death decision that should not be taken lightly. For instance, some make the mistake of attaching their well-developed press release to an email and sending it out to their contacts with a single email blast. Even if you blind-copy (BCC) the recipients, your email is more likely to be disregarded either by the reader or their email server as Spam.

When sending the release to journalists, do not approach it with a “law of large numbers” mentality – sending it out to every journalist you can find. Sending your press release to journalists that have nothing to do with the topic covered in your release is a quick way to burn bridges with media outlets. The best approach is to identify specific journalists and media outlets with a history of addressing similar topics and submit your release to each one individually.

 

Get Your Writing Tips from Harry Potter’s Creator

Before Harry Potter became a huge success, Joanne Rowling was just a regular 9 to 5 worker fighting to find some spare time to write between doing her job and being a single mother. Today, Forbes claims that the 51-year-old author’s net worth is $95 million. But JK Rowling didn’t have a swift and easy climb to success. In fact, she dealt with rejection, criticism, depression, financial difficulties and her mother’s death. Still, the British writer persevered with her passion and is now a household name.

There is a lot we can learn from her. Here is a list of the 10 best writing tips from JK Rowling:

  • Don’t ever quit writing something out of the fear of rejection. In a recent tweet, the Harry Potter creator stated that she wished someone had told her to continue writing even if she thought no one would read her work. Scared of what you’re scribbling down? Write it anyway.
  • Write in your spare time. Writers often work regular 9 to 5 jobs before making the switch to full-time scribe. Rowling insists that budding novelists should write in their spare time while doing their jobs.
  • Read, read and then read some more. To become a successful author, it’s essential to read as much as you can.
  • One of the best writing tips from JK Rowling is to write what you’re passionate about. Rowling famously said, “What you write becomes who you are … So make sure you love what you write.” Also, write what you know about. It could be your beliefs, your interests, your hobbies, even your pet. You never know when and where inspiration might strike.
  • Persevere. You’re going to face a lot of rejections before any of your work gets published. That’s okay.
  • Re-write as many times as you can. Surprisingly, Rowling rewrote her first chapter an astonishing 15 times before she was satisfied with it! As a writer, rewriting, editing and proofreading are essential.
  • Finish that novel even if you feel like you can’t because once you’re done with it, you will be truly proud of yourself for finishing a piece of creative work. Isn’t that awesome? You would have written a whole novel as opposed to trying to or thinking of writing one. The discipline and perseverance that comes from penning a book cannot be learned, it has to be done. Moreover, the experience will help you write your second book.
  • Plan your plot in advance. Rowling actually wrote the first Harry Potter book after creating the plot. In fact, she planned the story of all seven books even before embarking to write her first one! Now that’s some serious planning.
  • Be disciplined. Cherish and guard your designated writing time. Don’t get distracted.
  • Be patient. It might take a long time for your book to finally find a publisher but in the end, the wait will be worth it.

While you might not be the next JK Rowling (actually, you never know!) these writing tips are sure to keep you on track to publish your next big novel. While creativity is a vital ingredient to being a successful author, perseverance, discipline, planning your plot, being patient and facing rejection are equally important. Now go forth and be the wordsmith you always dreamed of becoming.

 

10 Best Writing Tips From Stephen King

Stephen King, author of several bestsellers like Carrie, The Shining, Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption and Under the Dome, has sold an astounding 350 million copies of his books and counting. The 69-year-old Maine-born novelist has seen his work been converted into movies, TV shows, miniseries and even comic books. The horror and supernatural fiction writer isn’t just a commercial success, he has been revered and adorned with numerous medals, awards and accolades.

Aspiring writers can learn a lot from the American storyteller who, even after being a victim of a terrible car accident, didn’t stop putting pen to paper. King published a memoir On Writing in 2000 that also serves as a guide for budding novelist. He has given plenty of advice to up-and-coming novelists. Here are 10 of the best writing tips from Stephen King:

  • Read and write a lot. Reading is an essential tool to becoming a successful author. King suggests reading and writing four to six hours a day. In fact, he sets a daily quota of 2,000 words per day and is determined to meet it. You need to devote several hours a day to honing your craft. He says that the most valuable lessons are the ones you teach yourself.
  • The best stories aren’t about events but about people. Write stories that are character-driven. After all, readers fall in love with characters, not events.
  • Write for yourself. One of the best writing tips the multimillion-dollar writer has given is to write because it makes you happy. Don’t write for money, to make friends or get dates.
  • When re-writing and proofreading an unpublished book, take out all the things that do not add to the story.
  • Being grammatically correct is important, but don’t obsess over it. At the end of the day, you’re writing a story and ensuring that the reader wants to it. However, King encourages writers to avoid adverbs.
  • Avoid distractions like the TV, videogames and mobile phones. They are a writer’s enemies.
  • Start with a what if scenario and work your story based on it. This is one of King’s most useful writing tips if you’re afflicted with a common malady known as writer’s block.
  • Kill your favorite characters, even if it hurts you. A good author isn’t afraid to kill them.
  • Fear is what keeps most writers from being successful.
  • Emerging scribes should stick to their own writing style rather than imitate another author’s style. Just be yourself.

So there you have it – Stephen King’s recipe for becoming a bestselling author. It may be difficult to start writing fiction or you may be stuck but the important thing is to keep going. King overcame a lot of difficulties such as financial problems, a car accident and inability to find work as a teacher. He raised three kids with his wife while teaching full-time and writing novels on the side. Now go ahead and pen that book you’ve always wanted. The best time to write something is now.

10 Best Writing Tips From Neil Gaiman

When listing the names of the best authors in the fantasy genre, every avid reader will inevitably say Neil Gaiman’s name. The 56-year-old Hampshire-born writer has penned a plethora of comic books, graphic novels, and films. He’s even dabbled in songwriting, theatre and TV shows. Regarded as one of the top ten post-modern writers, Gaiman’s bibliophile nature and journalistic background have helped him become the revered novelist he is today.

Gaiman’s most notable works include The Sandman comic series, American Gods, Stardust, Coraline, The Graveyard Book and The Ocean at the End of the Lane. He’s also social media savvy and isn’t afraid to share his knowledge and experience with the world. In fact, he has often peppered his blog with writing tips for budding authors. Although there’s a lot he has said about writing, publishing and being a writer, we’ve compiled a list of the most important ones. Here are Neil Gaiman’s pearls of wisdom:

  • Ideas aren’t that important. Everyone has an idea for a book, a movie or a TV show. Creating believable characters who more or less do what you want them to do is the hard part. So spend time on your characters once you’ve outlined your idea.
  • Put down your mobile phone and switch off your TV. Some of the best ideas can come from daydreaming, getting bored and making things up. Your mind will amuse itself once it’s sufficiently bored and come up with interesting scenarios. Everybody daydreams. The difference between an average person and a writer is that a writer notices when he or she is doing it.
  • If you’re having a problem coming up with a good idea, create a situation around these questions: What if, if only, I wonder, if this goes on and wouldn’t it be interesting if. This is perhaps one of the most useful writing tips from Neil Gaiman.
  • It’s crucial to put one word after another till you’ve finished your novel or short story. Writing shouldn’t be done only during a fit of inspiration. It has to be done every day once the idea has been formed. Finish it.
  • Neil Gaiman suggests sending your manuscript to all publishers in your genre. Even if your manuscript lands in the slush pile of rejected work. Keep doing it till you find someone willing to publish it. Patience is key.
  • Meet editors, attend conventions, join a writers group that encourages you to write, join associations and use the Internet to network, get reviews on your work and feedback from potential readers. The more people you meet, the more chances there are of someone publishing your work.
  • Edit your work as much as possible but don’t chase perfection. One of Gaiman’s important writing tips is to put away your short story or novel in a drawer for some time after writing it. Then, write something else. Whenever you feel ready, read your short story or novel as a reader. If you aren’t satisfied with it, fix it as a writer. Gaiman calls this revision.
  • Experiment with your writing. Pen something weird, eccentric or disturbing. Don’t worry about it being good or bad.
  • Read, read and then read some more. Moreover, Gaiman advices aspiring writers to read outside their comfort zone. For example, if you are a romance writer, read a crime novel. If you write fantasy, read philosophy.
  • Live life to the fullest. Real life experiences often serve as inspiration for characters and stories.

Hopefully, these handy tips have inspired you to become (who knows?) the next Neil Gaiman. Now go forth and prosper!

The Anatomy Of A Great Blog Post

A few days ago, we had a post about what the elements are in a great web page. Today, let’s tackle what elements constitute the perfect or near-perfect blog post.

So how can we create a great post? This is scary stuff because there’s so much pressure in blogging about and giving writers’ tips on perfect blogging.

Here are elements that make up a really great blog post:

1. The perfect headline

You need to learn how to write headlines that turn readers’ heads and want to take in all of your content. According to a Copyblogger stat, 8 out of 10 people will read headline but only 2 out of 10 will read the rest of the content. Your headlines (at least) must:

  • Be specific – This means it should include genuine information so readers get an idea of what they’re about to read.
  • Be useful – Your headline goes straight to the problem.
  • Create a sense of need – The reader wants his questions answered, your headline tells him they will be answered, just read on.

2. The perfect body

The body consists of these:

  • Introduction – It starts off with a bang of an introduction and that makes readers keep reading. One of the best writers’ tips for an introduction is telling a personal story or an anecdote of an influencer. This will make your introduction seem genuine.
  • Paragraphs – These give structure to your blog post and make it readable. Each paragraph should have a subheading (H2 or H3).
  • Written content – Take time to craft a post that is really of high quality and is well-researched. You can use Buzzsumo to give you the best resources and influencers, stats of articles or just plain topics for your posts.
  • Relevant visuals – They provide great value to your content. Blog Pros concluded that the best posts have an average of 3.2 images. Just credit your images and other multi-media content with the proper links.

2. The perfect length

According to SerpIQ, posts with more than 2,000 words perform the best. So the more word counts equates to better search traffic.

3. The perfect conclusion and call to action

Wrap it up nicely. Like a great gift, your blog post must have something of great value for your readers. Your conclusion will make them realize how valuable your post was and useful in the future, just like the perfect gift. To complete your post, inspire them to a subtle call-to-action. Then maybe give them a little bonus.

4. A few additions

  • You should optimize your post both for desktop and mobile platforms.
  • Promote your blog post through social shares. It has the potential to make your post reach more people. Have a “Click to Tweet” button or a Facebook share button ready for the lazy ones.

Use these writers’ tips

Remember, it is you who measure perfection. The perfect formula may not be the same for all but there is compelling content in all. Use these writers’ tips for creating one heck of a blog post. Then sit back, relax and wait for the results to come trickling in.

The Writer’s Ultimate Headline Playbook For Creating Great Content

The real writer has always had this one true goal: to write to amuse, entertain and inform the visiting readers, not for search engine rankings or being #1 in page 1 of SERPs. The true passion is in the writing. It always has been. But alas, in this digital world of marketing, how do writers write both for the visitors and the search engines?

They could start by coming up with topics that have been tried and tested with headlines that have been proven to be effective through the years. All we need to do is copy them, rehash them and present them as new. Of course, we won’t violate any plagiarism and copyright laws. We simply keep the basic concepts.

Choose from these classic entries from our writers’ tips and headline playbook:

  1. The ever popular “How To”

The motherlode of headlines, this is one surefire headline that will help people do something. Everybody needs an expert to show us how we can apply it in a practical way. That’s the promise of these headlines. It’s irresistible and we are all suckers.

Examples:

How to Have a Healthier and More Productive Home Office

How to Talk to Your Angriest Customers

  1. The ever reliable “Lists”

Also known as “listicles” these aren’t going away soon. They’re easily digestible and indispensable. There isn’t one single topic in the world that can’t be put in a list. Readers will always be wondering whether what they’re looking for is something within your list. It never fails.

Examples:

14 Ways to Increase Your Clickthrough Rate on Twitter

The Top 10 Jobs That Attract Psychopaths

15 Things Millennials Say That No One Else Understands

  1. Warning/Caution/Advisory: Something

People generally fear something. These signs are certain NOT to be ignored. The words warning, caution and advisory are so powerful, people will read whatever comes after it. Just make sure the “Something” will spark curiosity and be relatable.

Examples:

Warning: Your Blog is Under Attack by Splogs

CAUTION: You’re Not Sweating Your Headlines Enough

  1. The questions have it

This entry uses “Why” or “How” not to ask questions but to put an opinion out and give an explanation. If readers agree with you, they’re hooked. If they disagree, what’s your opinion of it? The more controversial the opinion, the more readers want to see which side you’re on.

Examples:

Why People Share: The Psychology of Social Sharing

How Do I Monetize My Blog (Or Podcast)?

  1. The Ultimate Guide to Something

It’s the ultimate, so readers must know about it because it promises to tell you everything that you want to know. Remember, it’s a GUIDE.

Examples:

The Ultimate Guide to Making More Money in Tech

The Ultimate On-Site SEO Guide for Your Online Store

Use these writers’ tips

One of the best writers’ tips is to be patient. You cannot rush headline and content writing, even if you wanted to and even if it’s writing for search engines. Just focus on what people want and then deliver. The next thing you know, the search engines will be guiding your readers to your next few viral posts.

 

Writers’ Tips: The Anatomy of a Great Web Page

Content writers always want their written masterpieces to be read from start to finish. If readers come to the webpage but don’t stay long enough and navigate through the page to read what they’ve written, it can be disheartening. Webpage creation and management is indeed an arduous task. What then is the anatomy of a great webpage?

While it is impossible to create the perfect one (where readers will want to visit, share, react to again and again) there are some things you can do to make it near-perfect. Here are writers’ tips on the anatomy of a great webpage.

Loading time

Internet speeds have improved so you must make sure your webpage loads fast. Remember, your visitors are impatient and their attention spans are short. You can always use a page speed checker like Google’s PageSpeed Tools. From there, you can work on improving page speed for desktop and mobile users.

Navigation

It is the first thing visitors observe about your site. How easy was it to go from page to page to find what they want in your site? Did they feel lost or that they’ve visited the wrong page? In other words, was it a waste of their time? Difficult or confusing navigation within your site will make them leave.

Clear readability

Once your readers are hooked by something on your site, they now want to explore. How do you keep them glued? Start by having a clear layout. What they were there for should be understandable and readily available the minute they land on your page. Some consider typography a big deal in keeping readers. Typography doesn’t only involve the fonts, but also the color, sizing, paragraph margins, line heights, kerning, etc.

Graphics design and color

No one wants to be overloaded with information. Sometimes, the webpage’s beautiful design is what’s making visitors come in, stay, keep reading and come back for more. The design involves layout, white space and a harmony between message and design. Also, not all visitors will react the same way with certain colors. Use colors properly for your target audience. For example, if you target women, you may use blue or green. Plan your color scheme choices properly because colors have different meanings and symbols to different people.

Content

It’s King after all. A great webpage has great content because it gives the answers to visitors’ questions and it anticipates potential questions of visitors. Do this to avoid frustrated visitors. Mediocre content will waste customers’ precious time. Too many topics will confuse them. Also, keep in mind correct grammar, tone, punctuation, etc. Use the proper calls to action and other vital information.

With very engaging, informative and unique content, you distance yourself from the rest and you gain attention. Visitors want to know that your site is reliable and trust-worthy, user-friendly and credible. And content plays a major role.

Writers’ tips

These are pointers that content writers and webpage designers must use together. Be patient and don’t rush a good webpage. Always respect your readers by giving them a site with beautiful elements and honest content. In return they will reward your webpage by trusting it, returning to it, sharing it and eventually buying the products in it.

Now that for sure is worth the wait.