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How to Turn a Blog Post into a Press Release

This guest post is by Erika Gimbel, a Chicago freelance writer.

If you’re an ace at writing blog copy, you can write an excellent press release. Both have many of the same elements: strong headlines, top-down format (most important stuff up front), etc. You already know that press releases are a powerful way to promote your blog, and they’re an effective way to get your message out without duplicating content.

So, if you’re ready to put your news out there, here’s some basic steps to re-writing your blog post into a press release. To get started, take a newsworthy blog post and…

1. Make sure it’s news

A press release has to announce something. Unlike most blog posts, it’s not commentary, a how-to guide or a numbered list. However, the following blog post topics would work perfectly as the basis for a press release:

  • launch of a new company
  • client success story (“Client Doubles Income After Completing Online Course”)
  • new product, service or event announcement (e-book, webinar, meetup, seminar)
  • awards, either that you’ve won or awarded to others (invent some!)
  • new employees/hires/contributors
  • milestones (one year in business, subscriber growth of 500%, etc.)
  • survey results

If you don’t have any of the above news, come up with your own, like predictions (“ProBlogger Announces Top Blogging Predictions for 2012”), or a response to current news (“Company Provides Immediate SEO Assistance for Google’s New Algorithm”).

2. Change everything to the third-person voice

Both the headline and the body of the press release should be in the third person. Instead of “we” or “I” use the company name. Instead of “you” use “customers,” or “clients.”

3. Revise the headline

Both blog posts and press releases ideally should have keywords within the first few words of the headline. Unlike most blog posts, press releases also have a subhead, which either emphasizes the headline’s point-of-difference—whyyour news is so important—or provides factual backup for the headline.

To format the headline and subhead…

PRESS RELEASE HEADLINE: IN ALL CAPS
Subhead in Title Case, Except the Little, Non-Important Words

4. Rearrange the post to contain these press release elements

  • Dateline: If you use a press release distribution service they’ll make sure you get this right, but if you’re writing it on your own, the format is: “CITY NAME [all caps], State abbreviation (Month Day, Year) – “ So as an example, you’d have “POUGHKEEPSIE, N.Y., (Aug. 31, 2011) – [First sentence starts here.]”
  • Lead: The main news. You can be creative with your first sentence, but make sure you get the who, what, where, why and how in the first paragraph. Your keyword/s should be in the lead as well as the headline.
  • Quote: A quote isn’t required, but it always helps to illuminate the press release and give it some personality. Go ahead and use “I”s and “you”s here. The quote is usually the second paragraph, but again, not required.
  • Boilerplate: At the end of every press release, include a short paragraph about the company, again in the third person. Your website and phone number go here, too.

5. Get familiar with AP Style, at least the basics

AP (Associated Press) Style is the writing blueprint for journalism—every grammar and punctuation question you have, the AP Stylebook has the answer. When I’m working on press releases, several unique-to-AP rules come up again and again.

For example, the AP Stylebook says that state names should be shortened like the old-fashioned mailing names. Florida is not FL, it’s Fla. And some cities are so well known (Chicago, Denver) that it’s not necessary to include the state. “Email” doesn’t have a hyphen but “e-commerce” does.

For a concise guide to the most relevant AP style notes, see this online AP Style guide from Purdue. AP continues to update its guidelines, so for the latest you can follow the AP Stylebook on Twitter.

6. Look at other people’s releases

For examples of press releases, go to sites like PR Newswire and PR Web and see what others have done.  Some of these press releases are not great, so use a critical eye. 

Many do not follow the “third person” and “AP Style” advice that I recommend (you’ll spot them right away … they look like blog posts), but please take a few minutes format your press release this way: it reflects expertise and professionalism, and in the end, isn’t that the image you want to portray with your blog?

Have you converted a blog post into a press release?  What else would you recommend?

Erika Gimbel is a Chicago freelance writer who writes press releases as well as articles, brochures, newsletters, websites and blog posts for business and nonprofit clients.  She loves helping clients figure out what to write about: if you’re stuck for topics, download her free report, 50 Ideas for Business Articles and Blog Posts.

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Comments

  1. Nice post with some good tips!

  2. Sunil Desai says:

    Absolutely bang on what I was looking for…
    Thank you very much…
    Sunil Desai

  3. Sunil Desai says:

    Absolutely bang on what I was looking for…
    Thank you very much…
    Sunil Desai

  4. fantastic post.

    It is important when issuing a press release to understand what you hope to gain. SEO juice? yes. Rebroadcast on news sites that carry that PR feed? yes. newspaper mentions and articles about your company? not like they used to.

    If you are trying to get placement, you are best off customizing the news release to be of specific interest to a reporter whom you have researched as to what kind of stories they write, and what ind of angles they’d appreciate.

    the sheer amount of press releases that come out every day make them almost impossible for reporters to keep track of… unless you issue a PR about shooting kittens for sport or the recipie for Osama bin ladens favorite dessert, i’d tamper your hopes of getting a PR sent out via wire turning into major media editorial mention.

    there’s a reason people hire PR firms…

    • Erika says:

      I agree with you Rabbi! It’s VERY rare that a major news outlet (or really any legitimate outlet) just takes a release and runs a story. If I’m going to contact reporters directly, I usually customize the pitch and include the press release as general information.

  5. How strange – my boss and I just today decided we needed to finally try this for the company’s somewhat-new blog. I had found another how-to site, but yours is much more helpful and thorough – thanks!

  6. Jay Vance says:

    Great post. I’ve used press releases in the past with great results. It provides nice traffic, especially if you rank well within Google news and you can get descent backlinks from it too.

  7. Nixon Press says:

    Good information Erika. Who would you release the Press Release to? Are there any costs or free alternatives involved?

    • Erika says:

      Good question! Who you release it to totally depends on your goals. Media coverage? SEO? Specific target market? For actually releasing it, there’s lots of alternatives – free and paid. For some clients, we don’t use any service and send it out to key media contacts. I actually just did a blog post on this: http://finepointwriting.com/2011/05/how-to-choose-a-press-release-service/ which includes a link to another post which has a long list of free press release services, plus reviews.

  8. To be honest, I’d never thought of doing this, but it makes perfect sense. Thanks for the great tips.

    Matthew

  9. Luke Moulton says:

    Press Releases are indeed a very powerful promotion and SEO strategy. I used PRweb to post a release recently and it was syndicated to around 2000 sites. A reasonably cost effective backlinking strategy given the submission fee.

  10. Press releases – they are the sort of thing that I never get round to. Erika has helped explain the process and it doesn’t seem so daunting now.

    Thanks

  11. Jeffrey Kang says:

    MFA sites are always news oriented because of Google’s obsession with unique, fresh and original content. So you have to be careful when you report news so you don’t get ‘blacklisted’ for being a ‘made for adsense’ site.

    PS. who hates those ‘great post!’ comments?

  12. PsychicJim says:

    Nice post on the art of the press release. I like what you wrote about headlines in a press release. Useful good tips.

  13. David Guion says:

    Thanks for a very timely post. Writing a press release is high on my to-do list.

  14. Thanks for the blueprint Erika. The third person voice is difficult for me, but I know this is a very effective SEO strategy and I really should be doing more to get noticed by the mighty Google.

  15. I never thought of press releases yet.But you give useful information on how to turn a blog post into a press release. Press releases are great in promoting blog.

  16. I think it is a much better idea to pay someone to do your press released. No matter how great of a writer you are, someone who is experienced can get you tons more traffic and sales.

  17. Thanks for the tips! I wonder though, is there a way you can submit your blog link to an exisiting PR site, or do you really have to paste it all over again on an entry?

    • Erika says:

      1) I don’t think you can do this and 2) don’t just duplicate your blog contents and call it a press release. They look and sound different. A press release is something you put out once in a while, when you really have news.

  18. Hi Erika,

    I have sparingly written press releases. I confess I am totally a zero at it. But one day I spent about 30 minutes browsing through press release websites and watched others’ press releases. I have done a couple of them which had bought me traffic too!! Then I forgot about it totally :)

    Thanks for your tips on formatting and writing press releases. I am going to give it a one more go :) Should make it a practice to master the art :)

    Cheers,
    Jane.

  19. Louie Sison says:

    Thanks for the great tips. I’m starting this campaign lately.

  20. Learned a few tips on the press release. But I am not going for it anytime soon as it’s not relevant to my domain.

  21. Mode says:

    Hi Erika, Thank you for sharing this awesome tips and information. This is really helpful

  22. Thomas says:

    Ericka,
    Thx for the article. I’ll remember your tips for a future press release.

  23. Erika you choose the correct topic, This type of Tips are need of Time as only 20-30 % people are using the Press Release in their Seo Check List as they are not fully updated with the benefit of it and use of it…
    Really needful Post…Thanks for sharing this………

  24. Ajay says:

    I give very high importance to Online PR. However you have to be careful in PR matters and let it handled by expert PR. I avoid talking about Client’s in any PR release. any new product or services constitute to be the best PR item followed by the events.

    Nice article.

  25. Thanks for the post Ericka. I checked out the AP Style of Writing and it’s wonderful. Basically minor stuff but really matter.

    Writing a press release is no picnic, especially now that PR sites are more strict when it comes to posting press releases. I think what makes a press release challenging to write is because it needs to be truthful, timely and relevant.

    Blogs is something more personal, like reaching out to a friend. However PR is something formal like putting up a headline in a newspaper – something that shouldn’t be ignored.

  26. Good ideas but I do have one criticism. Having written thousands (truly) of press releases, it is not good practice to write your headline in all caps. All caps is hard to read and takes up a lot of space. In fact, best practice nowadays is to write your headline starting with a capital letter and the other words in lower case. Much more readable.

  27. Mike says:

    Perfect timing. I’ve been trying to get myself to write our company’s first press release all week, but just can’t seem to get going. These tips should help, especially the one on AP style.

  28. aleman says:

    ok,good ideas

  29. Nice ideas shared hear, Thanks for the post Ericka, But by duplicating the press release we cant call it as a post, its just like copy paste.

  30. Hi Erika! This topic is very interesting specially for new blogger like me…but is it possible to write a press release for a personal blog?? Sorry for the dumb question…I am very new to blogging Erika..

  31. Hi Erika,

    Press Release is very stronge medium in SEO to improve online visibility. Thanks for sharing unique concept. love try this on own blog.

    Did you tried? How is the result, please share with us

    Thanks for sharing excellent concept
    John

  32. darkduck says:

    Do you actually need to turn blog into press release? Unless you write on official company’s site, blog should have touch of personality, IMHO.

  33. Was wondering whether blog posts can be considered as press releases.. searched in Google and found this post. I guess I’m not up to that stage yet