Once you’ve created your online course, the next step is to start spreading the word. A great way to do that is to write a Press Release to announce its release.
A Press Release is a snippet of information that journalists can base their articles on, both online and offline. So the target for this kind of writing is not your target customers, but writers who work for magazines, newspapers, and websites. Keep this in mind, and know that they may shuffle through hundreds of news articles that day, so yours should stand out and inspire.
Here is your guide to writing a press release that will let journalists know about your online course and make them want to write about it:
The 12 elements of an online Press Release:
In order for a Press Release to even be considered by journalists and news sites, it must follow a specific structure and contain specific elements. Here are those elements:
- Company Information
- Body text
- A quote from someone in the company
- About section
- Media Contact Information
- Links and social media assets
An example of a well-written Press Release
Earlier in 2016, a real estate solutions company called Yardi announced their new online Fair Housing Act course. It’s the perfect example of a great Press Release for an online learning course, containing all of the elements of a great press release.
All of the required elements are contained herein, and they are used well. Let’s break it down by section.
1 & 2: What Can We Learn from This Headline and Subheading?
Yardi used their company name in their headline, and their subheading. The reason it works here is because they did NOT use it as their opening word, it only takes up one word of the valuable heading space, and Yardi is a well known real estate solutions brand.
If you’re a well-known brand, definitely use your company name in the headline. If not, you might want to make use of this limited space with a more clever use of words.
Here Are Some General Headline Rules for Online Course Press Releases:
- Keep your main headline brief — 9 words or less is best.
- Try to trigger a question from your readers. This ensures that they will actually read the rest of your Press Release.
- Clearly restate your main message in the subheading.
- Make sure to use a word that makes the headline feel newsworthy.
The press release headline above uses only 8 words. This is perfect. It’s brief and the message is clear. The word “new” signals that this is news. It has all the elements of a great heading.
3: The Date Should Be Pretty Self Explanatory
You will include the current date, when submitting online. But, for email submission to individual journalists and news outlets, make sure to include the words, “FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE,” at the top of your text to make it clear that the news is urgent, and ready for publication.
4: This is Where the Location of Your News Should Be
At the beginning of your body text, include your business location. City and state are required for US and regional releases. Include your country as well when submitting international news.
5: Include your Logo in Every Release
This is an important part of Press Release submission as it serves two purposes: branding and notability. Readers will be journalists and news publications that want to know that you are a trusted source for the online course you’re promoting, and the logo will help them remember you next time.
6: This is What to Disclose About Your Company
You want to disclose as much as possible when disclosing company details, and this can include everything from the size of your business to whom the owner of the company is. As much as you can submit should should be submitted, as you want to be transparent and easy to find. Those interested in publishing your news will likely want to know more, so make their job easier by sharing company details right inside your release.
7: How to Write a Summary for Optimal Engagement
The purpose of your Press Release summary is to outline your news for easy reading. This is where a reader will look after they see the headline, and it should let people know whether they want to read the entire release or not. If you can, say it in 1-2 sentences.
8: Who, What, When, Where, How, and Who Cares?
These are the questions you should be asking as you outline the body text of your press release:
- Who is releasing this course?
- What topics does the course cover?
- When will learners be able to take advantage of it?
- Where is this company located, and which locations will it serve?
- How can the course be accessed?
- Finally, who will benefit from taking this course?
9: Include a Quote That Explains the Value of Your Course
The quote for your Press Release should be from someone inside the course creation circle. A leader in your company who knows all of the ins and outs should be able to say something that expresses the value being offered, and gets learners excited. Your exact words will be used in articles written, so they should speak to your target audience.
10: The About Section is Reserved for the Company, Not the Course
You will use the About section of your press release to talk about your company a bit more. When were you founded? What assets make you a leader in the industry? Answering these questions will give valuable insight to readers as they ponder how to spin your news.
11: Include Media Contact Information
Sometimes the contact information you supply for journalists to contact will be the CEO of the company, already included in the earlier portion of your press release, but larger companies will usually have a PR or marketing representative that journalists can reach out to with questions. Whoever you want the press to speak to, this is whose information should be included in this section.
12: Finally, Leverage Links and Social Media Assets Wisely
One link that is nearly always included in a press release is the company’s main website. Landing pages can also be included. An online Press Release will give you the bonus of a backlink, as well as a place where readers of this release and the articled born from it can go to learn more.
Business Wire is one of the contemporary Press Release submission sites that allows the use of social media assets as well as plain website links. It is likely that many others will begin to follow suit. So, when you’re including social media assets, you may need more than just your Twitter profile URL.
Here’s a breakdown of a Tweet included in Yardi’s Press Release:
Not only is this the right length; it is the perfect Tweet all around. Here’s why:
- It is comprehensive.
- It is relevant.
- It makes good use of #hashtags.
- It links back to the @Yardi profile on Twitter.
- It is less than 140 characters.
- There is room for a link to be included.
Each of these points is crucial to an effective tweet. Your tweet may or may not get traffic to your press release or website, which is why you need to fully optimize it for the highest chance of success. Make sure that any tweets you include in your press release contain all of the above characteristics.
Online Tools to Use When Creating Your Press Release
You can write all of this stuff on your own using the guidelines presented above, but online tools can make it that much easier. Try these out, then use the ones you like to help you create your next press release.
- Portently’s Headline Generator – Your headline is the most important component of your entire press release, and if you don’t ace this, your release will flop. Use the Headline Generator to come up with witty ideas, then modify them to be relevant.
- CoSchedule’s Headline Analyzer – This is a free tool for analyzing your headlines to ensure that are viral-ready. It is actually set up for blog posts, but the grader is very useful for all types of headlines, and will work well for press releases.
- Title Capitalization – If you’re like me, you can’t always remember whether your should capitalize certain words in a title or headline. When you have this problem, check out this free Title Capitalization tool.
- Instant Press Release – Here, you can sign up for limited use of a tool that will help you generate a perfectly formated press release. All you need to do it enter the information, and the press release will be automatically done for you.
- Hashtagify – Whether you decide to submit your release on Business Wire, or somewhere else, you will probably want to Tweet about it anyway. Use Hashtagify to find out what the best #niche tags might be.
- Social Mention – To see who’s interacting with your news and tweets, check out this real-time social media search and analysis tool.
Distributing your Press Release to major news sites
Once you’ve created a Press Release (one that includes the 12 elements outline above!) for your online course, the next step is to distribute your Press Release to journalists and news sites. A popular service that will do this for you is PR Web. In exchange for a fee, they will distribute your Press Release to every major news site and search engine on the web, and make sure it gets in front of relevant consumers and journalists.
Press release screen shots sourced from: http://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20160524005001/en/Fair-Housing-Yardi-eLearning on June 7, 2016.
- ^ How to write a #PressRelease for your online course. #teachonline #pr (twitter.com)
- ^ Click To Tweet (twitter.com)
- ^ announced their new online Fair Housing Act course (www.businesswire.com)
- ^ course creation (www.thinkific.com)
- ^ Business Wire (www.businesswire.com)
- ^ @Yardi (twitter.com)
- ^ Portently’s Headline Generator (www.portent.com)
- ^ CoSchedule’s Headline Analyzer (coschedule.com)
- ^ Title Capitalization (titlecapitalization.com)
- ^ Instant Press Release (www.ducttapemarketing.com)
- ^ Hashtagify (hashtagify.me)
- ^ Social Mention (www.socialmention.com)
- ^ PR Web (www.prweb.com)
- ^ essay service (theessayservice.org)
- ^ http://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20160524005001/en/Fair-Housing-Yardi-eLearning (www.businesswire.com)
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