Press releases can be a great tool for getting your news into the media’s hands, but crafting a new press release for every announcement can be costly and time-consuming. Unless you have someone on staff that can put together a well-crafted press release, you’ll have to spend time finding a writer every time you want to send one out.
But there is an approach that can help you cut down the time and money you spend on press releases: templates. By templating your press releases you can save time and effort on each release, and if done well you can even improve the overall quality of the announcements you put out.
The Standard Boilerplate
Most companies have relied on at least a little boilerplate for their press releases for years: you probably have a paragraph about your business’ background that you can drop into press releases, as well as other communications related to your business. Your boilerplate probably includes contact information for your company, as well as background information about the business’ history and specialties.
You can use the idea of boilerplate text to move you towards using a template for your press releases. If you routinely direct media interviews to one person, for instance, it makes sense to have a bit of boilerplate saying exactly that, along with that person’s background. Be prepared to tweak standardized text to customize it to specific press releases: when you run a small business, you’re responsible for taking all interviews, even if marketing and public relations isn’t your background. That means that you’ll probably want to emphasize different parts of your own background when sending out a press release. For a press release describing your business’ philanthropy, your background should probably mention why you chose a particular charity. For a press release sharing newsworthy statistics, your background should emphasize the fact that you’re an expert on the topic.
Tweaking an existing paragraph is far easier than writing a new paragraph from scratch. You already have an existing structure — all you have to do is fit the relevant information into that format.
Evolving Towards a Template
You can use any existing press release as a template, but it will be a very general template. Such an approach will give you the basic structure: a spot to place your headline, introduction and body text, but that sort of template can be hard to work with if you aren’t used to writing for publicity. Instead, you’ll want a specific template that lets you get a little closer to a ‘fill-in-the-blanks’ document.
Those boilerplate paragraphs you’ve tweaked make a better starting point for your press release template. By building up a few paragraphs that you can easily tweak to reflect the specifics of your current press release, you can create a template that is truly relevant to your business. With an effective template, you’ll only need to drop in a headline and a body paragraph or two covering the specifics of your latest news. Even headlines and news paragraphs can be written off a template. There are certain structures that are more effective than others, especially when it comes to headlines. Those structures reflect the type of press release you’re sending out, as well as your target audience: the structures that catch bloggers’ attention are different than those for newspaper reporters.
Drawbacks of Templates
If you rely on a template to produce your press releases, the news you send out to the media will have a certain sameness. It can be harder for a press release following a template to gather the notice of reporters, because your press releases will seem similar across the board. It’s the trade off of paying less for a press release. There are some compromises that can help you cut costs on your press releases without relying entirely on a template. You can work with a press release writer for headlines and body text, providing boilerplate for the rest of the press release — many writers are willing to effectively write half of a press release. You can also use multiple templates: different templates for different kinds of news or a set of templates you rotate through in order to provide some variety in your releases.
How do you handle your company’s press releases? Do you use them regularly, have you created templates?
Do you have any press release tips to share with other readers?
Let us know what you think in the comments.