Press releases are a tremendously useful and versatile part of your inbound marketing strategy. You can send the press release to news outlets and local magazines just like the old days. You can also post abridged parts across multiple installments on your blog. You can share key findings on social media with links to the source document. But you won't maximize the return of the press release unless it is well-constructed, informative and not overly commercial. So let's get right down to it. We'd like to provide some tips for writing an effective press release:
- A solid, accurate and attention-grabbing headline. Solar public relations officers are a fortunate bunch. Unlike other industries, the solar sector is constantly in the news, and often times, the news is good for consumers: lower upfront costs, rising adoption and ongoing savings. Therefore, make sure your headline grabs your intended audience by speaking to their specific concerns. Let's say your internal research indicates that your residential customers have saved 24% in home heating costs this winter. That's big news! Make sure your headline reflects this: "Stockton Solar Customers Save 24% in Home Heating Costs During the Winter of 2013."
- Be direct. While some people may complain a press release is too short, many, many more have complained about those that are way too long. This message is particularly important when your target audience consists of journalists: they're an impatient bunch, so state your case in one or two (maximum) sentences. Meanwhile, the press release itself should not exceed one page.
- Include numbers whenever possible. As the aforementioned example noted, a 24% decrease in home heating bills is far more compelling solar marketing metric than simply saying "Stockton Solar customers lowered their heating bill." If you have strong data, use it and contextualize it. And by that we mean complement the main data point with text like, "In March 2014, Stockton Solar surveyed 75 of its residential solar customers asking if they saved money in heating costs during the winter of 2013. The survey found that the average customer saved 24% over the previous winter. Four customers realized savings exceeding 50% while three realized no substantial savings." And so on.
- Quote people in the know. Quotes provide useful commentary that can't be expressed in the release's "objective" voice. For example, "'These savings indicate that thanks to applicable tax credits and the dropping cost of panels, residential solar energy can deliver real savings for Northern California families,' said Melissa Barrett, customer relationship manager for Stockton Solar."
- Make yourself reachable. The goal here, in addition to getting press outlets to republish your release, is to have journalists call you for further information. Put your contact information front and center on the press release - we're particularly fond of including "For press inquiries, contact John Smith," along with an e-mail address and telephone number in the upper-right hand corner of the release.