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The Anatomy of a Press Release

This post is an exert from my ebook How to Generate Traffic for Your Website:

Writing a press release is almost the same as writing good content, therefore pretty much everything that applies to writing good content applies to writing good press releases. Your headlines need to catch your reader’s attention immediately, the active voice is strongly recommended, and you need to provide unique and interesting information. An interesting angle (a different perspective) is always a very good thing to have with your press release.

The main difference with writing an article for your website and a press release is that a press release is more restrictive. Press releases have a structure to them that you really should adhere to, to get you the best results. In some circumstances if you don’t adhere to the generally accepted format your press release won’t be accepted at all by the wire service.

** Please note that there are some variations to press release formats, but the one I will describe is the most common.

Headline: Every press release needs a headline. It’s very crucial to the success of your press release. The headline needs to be precise, convey what the press release is about, and possibly create anticipation for the article above the other aspects of what makes a great headline.

Teaser: Your first paragraph (also known as your sub-lead – which might sometimes appear with the headline in a different text format than the rest of your article) is a teaser that reveals something exciting without going into the details, it’s the hook

Second Paragraph: The second paragraph explains why the news in your first paragraph is important and why it’s beneficial to the reader

Third paragraph: The third paragraph should include quotes from powerful industry leaders, well known experts, etc. You need to validate your second paragraph (where you stated your news). If you’re not using quotes, then explain how you came to your conclusion. Just remember to keep it short, it’s only a paragraph.

Fourth paragraph: The fourth paragraph is the wrap up. It’s where you close off your article.

Contact Info: This is where you give out your contact information so that the general media can contact you. Just make sure that you can be reached through your contact information the day your press release goes out.

Above this, there are some differing options by the different services as to what you can include, such as how and where you can place pictures, graphs, etc.

Having described the anatomy of a press release, let’s look at a concrete example. The following is a press release I wrote and published a while back in June 2005. In terms of reach, it was read 161,125 times on PRWeb (the service I used to distribute this particular press release). This number is includes only the times it was read on PRWeb directly, not how many times it was read from all the sites that re-published it. In any case, it’s a good example of a successful press release.

How Interest Rates Can Drastically Affect Real Estate Prices

Interest rates can drastically affect real estate prices and the profits you make on your real estate properties, probably more than most people realize. An increase of interest rates of 5% to a more normal historical average of 8% can signify a 27% drop in housing prices to maintain a $1000 monthly mortgage payment!

Many people believe that what has driven the real estate market to today’s high prices is the investment value of properties, just like stocks in the dot com boom. However, if you ask the average person what started the boom, as in what exactly is the “investment value” most people won’t be able to answer you. Put fairly simple, housing got affordable quickly because interest rates dropped substantially and rapidly, to their lowest in decades. Although this is not the only variable, the reality is that for each 1% interest rates dropped, a person could afford a lot more mortgage with the same monthly payments, especially when the interest rates are on the lower side of the spectrum. This has fueled the real estate market boom. However as the flames burned high, the market has taken a fire all of its own as speculation too hold.

Looking at an example, a mortgage payment of $1000/month at an interest rate of 5% amortized over 30 years will allow you to pay a mortgage principal of $186,281.62. If you increase the interest rate by 1% to 6% and you want to maintain the same monthly payment of $1000, then you cannot sustain a mortgage of more than $166,791.61. This makes the mortgage amount you can afford 10.97% less than before. Take a higher interest rate, a more historically average interest rate of around 8%, now you can only afford a mortgage of $136,283.49, a significant drop of 26.8%!

We can graph the mortgage affordability based on interest rates alone. As you can see, the mortgage affordability is affected much more significantly at first. This is unfortunate for all those people that have been buying up real estate without really doing the research or working their numbers, or that are on the edge financially. They will most likely get squeezed out of the market and cause over zealous fire sales, much like the dot com boom and bust of 2000.

Headline: As you’ll quickly notice the headline draws attention. It has a power word (drastically). It creates a sense of emotion (this was written in 2005, so the real estate bubble hadn’t yet exploded – it was actually in full mania).

Teaser: In the teaser you’ll notice I state that interest rates will drastically affect real estate prices, and more importantly the profit YOU will make on YOUR real estate properties. Then I give a quick and concrete example with some numbers (no calculations or explanations are included yet) showing just how large an impact it can have on you. I imply a LARGE 27% drop in prices. Again, notice I state my claim without any explanations as to how I got to those numbers. The idea is to provide just enough information to entice the reader to read further.

Second Paragraph: This is where I make my real statement. This is where I explain my article, why it’s interesting, what it’s about, how I got to this conclusion, and most importantly why it’s important to YOU.

Third Paragraph: This is where I give credibility and validation to my initial statement. Normally I would use a quote (this is probably the only press release where I didn’t include a quote) from some high profile person (don’t forget this can also include you if you’re the founder of a company or a high profile person). In this particular press release I validated the second paragraph by explaining how I came to my conclusions. I give a concrete example of my conclusion with numbers, to show that I just didn’t make them up from thin air.

Fourth paragraph: Here I wrap up the article and add a parting thought, a word of warning for the reader to leave with.

Tip: Not all press releases need to be directly about you, your company, your product/service, or your website. Sometimes creating press releases with very interesting news information, such as the example I just showed, can result in significant indirect traffic. In this article the key to driving the traffic was the contact information.

My goal was not to directly promote me or my company, but to create authority in the real estate field. I was trying to get attention from real estate investors and indirectly create traffic and sales for my company LandlordMax (as well as this blog). And at the same time, if the article is related to your keyword as this one was, it can increase your search engine ranking through all the links you’ll get (from re-publications).

You can also increase the odds of getting traffic to your website by embedding a link to your company’s website, blog, etc. with the quote, but it’s not always recommended (if you don’t do it right it can come across as “spammy”).

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