A press release is more than just a piece of content to get news coverage.
It’s a valuable tool to market your business.
The official announcement may also be called a “press statement,” “media release,” or “news release.”
This guide will help you write a press release that can produce massive impact and great results for your business.
It all starts with understanding the goal of your media release.
Understand the Goal of the Press Release
If you don’t have a clear goal of what you want the press release to achieve, you won’t accomplish much. Your objectives will get mixed up, and you won’t focus on the key aspects that will help you make maximum impact.
A press release can have several goals, including:
- Getting media coverage: This means getting as much exposure as possible.
- Building your brand’s reputation: Here you want to shape the public perception of your brand.
- Managing a crisis: In such a situation, you want to be in control of the narrative about your company.
- Building backlinks from reputable news sites: This can help set up your website and build traffic to it.
- Marketing your organization: Such an option would be a cost-effective strategy in the marketing mix.
You should write your press release in a specific way, based on the different objectives mentioned.
Keep in mind that you have a limited amount of time to grab journalists’ attention and only a limited number of words to tell your story. You certainly don’t want it to go to waste by mixing up your objectives.
Figure Out the Type of Press Release You Want
The objective you have in mind will then influence the type of press release you write. However, you can also start by having a specific kind of press release, then align it with your principal objective.
The type of press release will depend on what story is worth telling.
These are the typical press release types:
- mergers and acquisitions
- new product launch
- updating an existing product
- hosting or attending events
- new partnerships
- opening new offices
- receiving awards
- promoting or hiring new executives
Besides, your press release doesn’t necessarily have to be in text.
It can even be a video press release like this:
Develop a Journalistic Mindset
Before you get to the writing part, you need to develop a journalistic mindset.
You need to know what would make a journalist go gaga over your press release. Most importantly, you need to know what will make journalists skip over or dump your media release in the trash.
The critical thing to grab journalists’ attention is to find an angle (a hook).
Take note that you should be trying to please more than just the journalist. The people you’re trying to please are the journalist’s audience. That’s what will interest the journalist.
News guys get tons of pitches every day.
Your pitch must stand out from all the rest or it will get lost in the crowd.
How do you determine a great angle?
- How does your story impact the local community?
- What emotional response does your story evoke in readers?
- Are you presenting a different side to a conflict?
- Are you highlighting progress in eliminating a specific problem?
While doing all these, take note of how you present your story.
The presentation is a vital component in telling your storyitself. If you bury the lead, people will lose interest even before they read the exciting stuff. Put that exciting stuff upfront.
And keep it short.
Journalists don’t have all day to read chunks of text from a “nobody.”
Most of all, don’t oversell your story. Yes, the new product you’re launching may be so valuable in your eyes, but that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the best product in the world.
Lastly, your writing should match the kind of style media professionals use: the AP Style. Following that style will make things easier for them, which will benefit you.
Include All Key Features to Make a Great Press Release
Which are the key features that make a great press release?
All features are key features.
You shouldn’t leave out any aspect of the press release just because you think it isn’t essential; whether it’s the format, headline, contacts, body copy, boilerplate or any other part.
A Clear Format
Press releases have a useful and straightforward format. Every aspect of the format is crucial, and you shouldn’t overlook a single element.
Here’s a simple press release template that shows the format to use:
For Immediate Release
Name of Press Contact:
[PRESS RELEASE HEADLINE]
Key Bullet Point One
Key Bullet Point Two
[CITY], [STATE] – Introductory Summary Paragraph
[Second Paragraph] – Giving Deeper Detail on Your Story
[Third Paragraph] – Giving Extra Details on Your Story
Apply Branding With Your Company Logo and Colors
As mentioned earlier, your press release does more than give media exposure; it’s also a marketing tool. Putting your company logo and colors is a powerful way of etching your brand in the minds of everyone who read it.
You can put such branding on the headline section.
For Immediate Release or Hold Release Until
Sending a release to the media doesn’t necessarily mean they can publish it immediately.
And you get to decide when they publish it.
To determine when your press release gets published, place either of these words at the top:
- “FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE”
- “HOLD RELEASE UNTIL”
In situations like product launches, you may need the second option. This can also give journalists enough time to craft a customized story around your press release.
Make an Impact with Your Headline
Your headline can make or break your press release.
It’s the one thing that will determine whether anyone reads the rest of the content or not. If it doesn’t inspire anyone to read, your efforts are worthless.
It should summarize the most powerful aspect of your story. But don’t try to cram everything in the headline.
Think about something that makes your story unique, so it stands out amongst the thousands or millions of other headlines people come across every day.
For example, unicorns are rare in the business world, so mentioning it in the title made this press release by Canva irresistible:
Include a Bit of SEO
Considering that your press release will go on a website, adding a bit of SEO could give it that extra push in coverage. It could get organic traffic long after it has been published, giving you long-term rewards. You’ll also be leveraging on the high domain authority of the media sites that publish your media release.
Select a keyword that targets the kind of people who would be searching for what you have to offer. You can include it in the headline and optimize the content around it, but don’t overdo it.
Besides, the right keyword will also appeal to your target audience. People want to read something that mentions an issue they are interested in.
And to make your content reader-friendly, preferably use Title Case on the headline. Reading all caps isn’t easy on the eyes.
Most of all restrict your headline to less than 160 characters.
Going over 160 characters will mean your headline gets truncated by Google when it appears on the search engine result page (SERP).
This aspect is particularly useful if you publish the press release on your company website. People searching for terms related to the content of your story would find it through Google search, which pulls traffic to your site.
For instance, Apple’s press release which was published almost a year ago still ranks high for about 5 organic keywords on Google’s SERP:
Mention the Location and Exact Date
At the very start of the press release, or within the first paragraph, you should mention the city, state, month, day, and year.
This is essentially a news publication; hence, it needs a time frame. The location makes it relevant to the target audience you have in mind.
Here’s one example of Vail Resorts’ press release that starts with the mention of a location and exact date:
Deliver a Convincing Introductory Paragraph
After winning over the reader with the title, you must provide a compelling introductory paragraph to convince readers that they haven’t wasted their time checking out your media release.
You must mention every critical aspect of your story at the very start.
Don’t hold off any vital detail.
You should answer the five critical questions: who, why, what, where, and how.
This is an entirely different format from novels, blog posts or any other type of content. Here, you are dealing with an audience that didn’t ask to read your content. They didn’t search online to find your content or subscribe to your email newsletter. Your goal is not to waste their time.
You can make the task of understanding your content easier by including two or three bullet points in the beginning. Give crucial fast facts about the content.
Once you finish with the first paragraph, you should not provide any other critical information in the rest of the content. The rest of the content should only complement what you’ve already mentioned in the first paragraph.
Give a Meaningful Quote
A quote from the right person in your company can make your story far more powerful.
Just think about it, journalists are always scrambling to get the opinion of influential personalities on the most trivial of issues. It doesn’t matter how many other people have said the same thing. Just having an influential person saying it makes it far more meaningful.
The authority and respect held by such a person give his/ her words a weightier feel.
Therefore, get a quote from the most authoritative person in the company, particularly someone directly involved in the project. Also check if the person quoted has some extent of social following. This will make the story appealing to a broad audience.
Above all, avoid the temptation to quote a whole bunch of people. Just one quote from the right person can make a significant impact.
Provide Relevant Background Information
Once you give a story, think about the other questions people reading it will have in mind.
They may have all the vital details to understand what the story is about, but fleshing it out with other relevant details can bring the story to life in a much more vivid way.
If you talked about a new product launch like a new toy that will change the way kids play and make them more adventurous, why not show examples of that in real life.
If you hosted an event that’s a game changer in your industry, why not include details of the kinds of important speakers who were in the event.
Perhaps you’re announcing a plan to deliver new content in your media company that will entertain your audience. Why not detail the types of programs that people can expect.
You just launched a new product that’s better than the previous models you had. You can give details of the creative methods you used in crafting the new product and the people involved.
Leave out any trivial details that won’t add value to the main focus of your press release.
Write in a Simple and Interesting Way
Never use complicated words and jargon that only professionals in your industry understand. After all, the press release will be read by journalists who probably do not know your industry. And it will go out to the public who likely don’t know that you exist.
Also, avoid buzzwords.
Buzzwords sound great and all, but don’t give much useful information. People want words that they can relate with and use in their daily communication.
And make it fun.
The story might seem interesting to you, but it can bore everyone else. Add some spice to it by including graphics and even video.
Here’s an example from a press release by ŠKODA:
The graphics and video in your content can even increase social shares, which mean greater exposure of your content.
However, the most crucial part is how you write.
Follow these useful tips:
- Use a professional voice.
- Write in the third person.
- Write a story related to the perspectives and concerns of your readers.
- Keep it short, at about 400-500 words or one page.
- Eliminate all unnecessary words, to deliver a clear and concise message.
- Eliminate adjectives – stop trying to make your story colorful.
- Keep it objective by avoiding any biased reporting.
- No jargon.
Ultimately, you should proofread and thoroughly edit your story before sending it out.
Write a Compelling Last Paragraph
Don’t waste the last words of your story.
If someone reads your story to the very end, that person is likely captivated by what you have to say. Don’t leave that person hanging by ending the story abruptly without suggesting any step of action to take.
If you’re talking about a product launch, mention where it can be found.
Perhaps you talked about an event, won’t the reader be interested in finding out if you’ll have another event in future?
Give Your Company Details in the Boilerplate
As a business person, you need to know the art of handing out your business card at every possible opportunity. You never know where you’ll get clients. Your press release could be that place.
With a press release, you should put in a bit more detail than merely your contact details.
You need to give a bit of detail of what your business does, which will give your story even more relevance. It’s a vital piece of information that media guys use to tell a story around your press release.
Do this on the boilerplate section at the very end, as seen in Peapod’s press release:
Include links to your company’s website or even social media profiles so anyone interested can contact you easily. If you cite data in your story, include reference links here to the data source.
Your email address and telephone number are valuable contact details for journalists to reach you for further information concerning your story. Ensure the contact details are all current and functioning.
Once you finish writing the press release, it’s always wise to get an impartial assessment from someone else. Being part of your business, you might easily overlook simple problems that can ruin your press release.
Find out if the story makes sense to someone who may not know much about you.
Once you get the critique of your content, make the necessary changes, and it will be ready for distribution.
Publishing Your Press Release
Although this part comes last, you should have it in mind during the writing process. The mode of distribution of the press release can influence the way you write your story.
For instance, if you’ll distribute the story through local media outlets, it has to have content that closely relates with your local community. Writing vague concepts that apply to global audiences won’t appeal to your local audience.
To effectively distribute your press release, take into consideration the easily accessible opportunities you have around you first before you approach third parties.
Your Company Assets
Your blog/ website can be the first place to publish your press release.
You can then share it with your social media followers and email subscribers.
This will work well if you have a large following. It will give you that much needed initial exposure before the story is published by media sites.
Target Specific Journalists
Sending your press release to a bunch of random journalists can be counterproductive.
It might end up on the desks or emails of journalists who have no experience covering your industry. They won’t be interested in your story, and it won’t get published.
Instead, look for specific journalists who understand and report on your industry.
Craft personalized emails to reach such journalists.
Contact Journalists the Day Before
Sending your press release under embargo (for publication at a specified time) can give journalists enough time to write their own story about your press release.
You can even make the press release exclusive to a particular journalist, so only that journalist has the privilege to report on the issue. This way, your story can get individual attention.
Go Offline and Follow Up
Since other press releases already flood journalists’ emails, you can take a different route to grab their attention.
Why not have yours delivered in person? Or use snail mail instead.
But sending your story is just the beginning.
You also need to follow up, to make sure the intended people received your message. Pick up the phone and call them. Or send a follow-up email.
Once your story gets published, don’t sit back just yet.
You can create more exposure by sharing the stories published in the news outlets.
But remember to avoid the pitfalls that can ruin your efforts.
Syndication is one thing you should avoid when distributing your press release. This only worked in the old days. Doing it in this era will just get you penalized by Google.
Start Writing Your Press Release
Understanding all these critical issues doesn’t help if you don’t actually start writing.
Just start writing your story. Make it enticing and fill it with all the information you think should fit in. Don’t worry about making it look great or correcting any mistakes. If you keep worrying about the errors, you’ll hardly write anything.
When you’ve finished writing your rough copy start editing it ruthlessly.
That’s how you’ll turn a meaningless rough draft into a super press release that will make journalists go gaga.
Have you written a press release for your company? What was your experience? Did it achieve the exposure you wanted?