3 Press Release Rules that Should Be Broken

Press releases are structured documents with rules that need to be followed. Over the past few years, the rules have changed and the structure has evolved. There are still rules to consider following and those to consider breaking.

The Summary

The “old school” way of writing a press release was to position a summary under the headline. The summary was a brief paragraph that essentially summarized the material in the press release. Traditionally, this summary is a rule that shouldn’t be broken and there are many good reasons why you wouldn’t want to break it. The summary gives you an abundance of opportunity to hook the reader and pull them into your press release.

Generally speaking, it addresses the “who, what, where, when, why and how” of the release. And this is all good information to provide up front – it can be where you position keywords and connect with your reader even if they don’t open your press release. That being said, this is also a good rule to break. Why not include a compelling sub-headline instead of a summary?

A sub-headline gives you a more concise way to grab attention, and because it’s short and active people may be more inclined to read it than to read a paragraph. If you choose to write a sub-headline instead of a summary, be sure to make sure it is a powerful one.

No Selling

Press releases are to grab media attention and therefore they must be fact based. There’s no selling in a press release, right?

This is a rule that can, and often should, be broken. Why would you not take an opportunity to include a website link to a sales page? Why wouldn’t you include a call to action that compels readers to continue the process and take the next steps?

Not selling or marketing to your reader is a missed opportunity. You’re no longer just connecting with the media in a press release. With press release distribution and publication on social media, you are connecting with the world.

One Link Only

There’s a rule that says you should only include contact information and a link to your website in your press release. And in many ways this rule makes sense. If you provide more than one link for your readers to click on, they may be unable to make a decision about what to click on and what to do next. This can cause decision paralysis and they may simply click away.

However, a press release is also an opportunity to provide supplemental material, including videos, infographics, photos, case studies and more. And all of that information needs to have a link so your readers can access it. It’s not uncommon today for a press release to have a half dozen linking opportunities. Keep this in mind when you include a link in your press release you need to ask yourself whether it helps you achieve your desired goals, and whether it provides the reader with value and benefit.

Ultimately it makes good sense to know the rules of press releases. When you know the rules and why they exist, you can then decide if and when to break them.

Anthony Santiago is Director of Marketing at Newswire. With over a decade of experience in PR, he helps ensure that clients understand the value of brand messaging and reach.

Catch up on the rest of your content marketing news and strategy