Staring at a blank Word document with the cursor busily blinking away is the single most off putting part of any writing endeavor. The blank page syndrome can cause even the most experienced of writers moments of panic. Couple this with the certain knowledge that you HAVE to write a press release today to keep your website updated, stick to your SEO timetable, create some form of content for link building and have something to post out to your social media sites and you have a recipe for disaster.
So, how do professional writers do it? And how can you beat the blank page syndrome and work smarter not harder when producing your online press releases?
A boilerplate is a template for your press release writing. It should include a logo in the top right corner (in the header if you prefer) and your contact details to the left. Below the logo, add two lines of text; ‘for immediate release’ and the date of issue. Below that, leave a small gap and then insert your company profile to form an “about us” section that should appear at the end of the unique press release content.
This “about us” brief provides background information to the reader and is essential to painting a picture of an interesting, reputable company for editors. It should include the year the company was formed, your main product and services, details of any awards won and any notable achievements. You can also include supplementary information which may make the PR more relevant to the reader such as physical store locations or number of outlets. The “about us” blurb can be anything up to several paragraphs long and it should appear on each and every PR.
Next add the contact information of the person in your company tasked with dealing with press enquiries. Include their full name, email address and direct dial.
Save all of this as your boilerplate or PR template and use it each time you write a release. When you open your document to get started, you’ll see not a blank page but a professionally laid out release with several paragraphs of information (the about us blurb) already filled in – helping to give you the impetus to carry on writing.
2. Set up Google Alerts for your top 3 competitors
Knowing what the competition is up to is a strategic business activity and one that can help to make the task of writing much easier and quicker. Rather than racking your brains thinking of completely new angles for each piece, subscribe to Google Alerts for each of your top 3 competitors. Read these alerts on a daily basis to keep abreast of industry trends, make sure you don’t miss out on new developments, and get a drip feed of inspiration from which you can create your own unique news releases.
3. Subscribe to industry newsletters
If you don’t have the time or the budget to subscribe to the best publication in your industry, visit their website and subscribe to their email bulletins instead. Make it a habit to glance over the headlines when their newsletters hit your inbox. Click only on the articles that are particularly interesting and unique. Save the links to these pieces in a special bookmark folder and you’ll have created your own tear file. This can be full of articles old and new – the important thing is it provides a collection of material that inspires you, making it much more likely that your own content will be of a high standard. Each time you’re stuck revisit that file and read an article. You’ll be surprised at how easily the ideas start to flow.