Now that you know the basic structure of the press release, how do you develop a story that people will actually care about?
Well, if the solar product, service, or event is big enough, the story usually ends up writing itself. You’re excited, and you’re naturally eager to get the word out.
These are not the types of press releases that usually give people trouble. Copywriting about big news is relatively easy:
- Just stick with the facts
- Follow the format
- Highlight the benefits
- Throw in some quotes
- And you’re basically done (although in future posts we’ll work on making your press release even better)
No. The hard press releases are the ones in which you have to turn a small story into a bigger one. You’ve extended your store hours or you’ve hired a new accounting manager.
Harder still, you want to revitalize a product in your catalog that hasn’t seen much activity in awhile. This is definitely not “news” since the product is already available and always has been.
What do you do?
Finding the Story Within
The less “newsworthy” your story is, the more preparation you’ll need. Let’s take an example and try to build a press release out of it.
Here’s the background: You work for Acme Solar, but your flagship product, the Acme 123X solar panel, hasn’t been selling well. It’s a fine piece of technology, and people are generally happy with the panel, but unfortunately sales are down.
Your target customers are installers. They buy your product and then offer it to homeowners or residential customers.
After some digging around, you discover that installers generally like the Acme 123X, although the actual installation is a bit trickier when compared with other PV alternatives.
If I were in this situation, I might write a simple e-book that guides people through the installation process for Acme 123X solar panels. The manual might include potential pitfalls, troubleshooting, dos and don’ts, and FAQs. It wouldn’t have to be terribly long.
As you see later on, I’ll use this e-book as a centerpiece for the solar press release. The product is old, but this guide is “new.”
Next, I would publish the e-book online as a downloadable PDF (after people fill out a simple lead form). I’d hyperlink this landing page – both on the Acme 123X product page and in the press release (in my call to action).
I might also send the e-book to a few installers in my network and get their feedback. Basically, I want any juicy quotes I can get. Remember to let respondents know that you might use their feedback in an upcoming press release. It’s generally good publicity for them if you mention their name and company in the press release.
Next, I’d research the keywords I want to attach to this piece. In theory, I’d already have some keywords associated with the product itself (from my earlier SEO work on the Acme 123X solar panel). But I might also add things like “free solar installation e-book” or “free solar panel installation instruction online” or variations.
Example Solar Press Release Headlines
Now we can begin writing. We start with the headline. Potential winners include:
- Acme Solar Launches Free Panel Installation Guide Online
- Free Online Manual Makes Solar Panel Installation a Breeze
- Free E-Book Makes Solar Installers’ Job Much Easier
Straight to the point, good use of keywords, and definitely “newsworthy.” Also notice that the second two headlines highlight a real benefit to potential installers – “greater ease.”
Now we jump into the subheading in which we give the reader a few more details. Variations include:
- Acme Solar has just released a new e-book for its flagship product, the Acme 123X solar panel, making installation even easier than before.
- With the release of its free online manual, Acme Solar believes it can reduce installation times even further for the Acme 123X solar panel.
Again, these subheadings are benefit-focused and keyword-rich. We’re solving a problem out there, and we’re doing it with a “new” product – the e-book.
Next we jump into the lead. It begins:
Anywhere, US (PRLog) April 1, 2012 – Last week, Acme Solar introduced a new….
Notice that I put PRLog in parentheses. If you use Marketwire or PRWeb or some other service, you’d simply insert their name here. If you don’t distribute your press release through an official wire, just remove the ( ) entirely.
The lead would continue for another paragraph in which we outline the who, what, when, where, and why. In summary, those points are:
- Acme Solar (who)
- Has made this e-book available (what)
- Last week or March 25 or next month (when)
- Downloadable from the Web (where)
- To help reduce installation times (why)
Then we jump into the body of the solar press release where you can expand on the summary and include juicy quotes. Don’t forget to include quotes from your team (explaining the “why”) and from those who have used the e-book (from your brief installer survey).
Here are some quote ideas from your management team:
- We decided to launch this manual to help our clients reduce installation times because….
- With the new [insert: solar rebate program] on the horizon, we wanted to make it easier for our installers to service the needs of…..
You get the general idea. If you can document reduced times or increased efficiencies, throw those in. Studies have shown that approximately 87% of people love numbers, facts, stats, etc.
Remember to include keywords and hyperlinks. Don’t saturate your copy. A hyperlink every 100 words is fine. A keyword phrase once every (or every other) paragraph will do.
Those hyperlinks should point to the most important pages on your site. In our example, I would probably link to:
- The home page
- The Acme 123X solar panel product page
- The landing page where people can download the free e-book
Insert a call to action. And remember to spell out any URLs in case your hyperlinks ever get disabled:
For more details about the Acme 123X solar panel or to download this free e-book, visit: http://……com.
Closing out Your Press Release
And finally, end the press release with ###, a brief paragraph about Acme Solar, and your contact information.
Voila! Not only do you have a press release that generates buzz about one of your products, but you also have a landing page that can potentially generate sales through the lead form.
In future posts, we’ll explore how to make your press releases better and better. But now you have a general idea of the formatting and overall content structure.
You should also have a better understanding of how to transform even the most mundane idea into content that people will actually want to read.
Now we’re ready to get your solar press release out to the general population. Stay tuned for the next installment in which we explore the “Where” of solar press release distribution.