When it comes to the content you produce, the old-school way could be a good thing, such as using press releases correctly. However, your company’s public relations strategy should not be old or poorly defined because that hurts your brand and business.
About a decade ago, most people looked to newspapers to get a news story or turned on the television. However, the majority of your customers scan Twitter headlines or scroll Facebook feeds to get information.
People have control now over when, where, and how they consume their information. Therefore, it’s not just about feeding the traditional news cycle. You must provide relevant content on how, when, and where the prospects, social media influencers, and customers consume it.
This can sound hopeless at first, but it’s not. Relationship-building gets you into those popular publications you want to be in, but now you can generate a buzz for yourself with an effective press release.
When you turn the PR strategy inbound with press releases, you create opportunities with your target audience that wasn’t there previously to carve out a name for yourself.
A well-written press release is the best way to do that, but it means focusing on the audiences and the reporters. If you don’t know how to write a press release, you’re missing opportunities, but this guide can help!
What Is a News Release or Press Release?
Producing a news story now and then can help your brand stand apart from the competition and build a relationship with journalists with time. That’s where a press release or news announcement comes into play.
A press release is considered an official statement, often written, that a company gives to the news media and elsewhere. It’s designed to provide meaningful news while offering free publicity.
Sometimes, it is called a press release, news release, or media release. Regardless, it’s the same thing.
Typically, the heading contain action verbs, while the first paragraph answers the what, why, who, and where. Your press release should include a quote and appropriate language, too.
Most press releases are about one page long or two at the most. Companies should provide enough information in the news release so that outlets have enough material to publish other stories about the announcement.
While it’s often tempting to use your press release to embellish accomplishments or twist information to make the news article more intriguing, it’s not a wise idea. A press release is a public domain, so prospects and customers see them. Instead of thinking that a press release is your ticket to boosting news coverage, focus on it being a marketing content option.
There’s no specific formula or template for a press release, but there are many occasions when to use it. With that, most companies use a similar format to keep things simple.
Learning how to write a press release starts with understanding the types out there:
New Product Launch Press Release
A product launch type can help you talk about new solutions the company offers to consumers. This press release emphasizes the item’s product specifications, availability, pricing, and other details.
While a product launch might not be breaking news, you can use newsjacking as a strategy. This process lets you inject your brand into current stories out there to make it eye-catching and relevant to your brand. For example, if something goes viral on social media platforms, you can tie the press release and new product to that issue or problem.
Organizational changes are noteworthy enough to warrant a press release, especially if you’re informing stakeholders about the trajectory and growth of a company.
While similar to product launches, product update/expansion releases are great for promotion. Explain why you’re changing the item, what is better, and how the user benefits.
An event press release is a great way to market and attract promotions from media sources, such as news outlets. When does the event happen? When does it take place? Include relevant information here to be successful and bring in more people.
Whether you’ve opened a new office or plan to relocate, you can announce the details. This is a news story and worthy of attention because it lets others know what’s happening, who’s involved, and when the event takes place. With this press release, you can drum up more business and keep loyal customers.
Executive Promotions/New Hire Press Release
Executives are often the faces of the company, so a press release can help kick off the role. It can include biographic information, a photograph, and other pertinent details.
Whenever you win an award for doing something great, you should put out a press release talking about it. This could also be a social media press release that appeals to bloggers and influencers.
Sample Press Release Format
When formatting your press release, you should make it straightforward and newsy, as a journalist might.
The press release format is often similar, regardless of what you are talking about. It should always have contact info and “For Immediate Release” at the top. However, most of the confusion lies in the body copy, which should be two to three paragraphs in length.
Here are other things to consider for the press release format:
Your logo should be in the right-hand corner at the top for every single press release you create. This is your brand, so use it wisely. Add your contact details underneath so that the media and journalists can call if necessary.
Though you should write the press release to be released immediately, it should contain a release date. Usually, this is the date you write the piece, so people know they can put it in print once they get it.
You should always provide your contact information or that of the person fielding the inquiries. The contact information should always include a phone number, email, and full name.
Ultimately, the subject line is a one-liner that tells everyone what they need to know. Make it interesting, punchy, and go for the kill as long as you stay on the subject. Many journalists use their own when they write the story, but you shouldn’t neglect this step.
The intro paragraph is actually one sentence. This is where you say everything there is to say. In fact, this is the hook, so make sure you bait it well.
The body paragraphs are for the details and reason for the press release. Make sure you use logical steps for the body copy without repeating yourself. Fill in the story carefully and slowly.
Once the body is written, you should write your boilerplate. In a sense, this is the about us section of the release. You can include a brief overview of the mission statement, what the company does, and other information that makes you stand apart from the crowd.
This contains the least important information. However, if you have specific press contact details (where the piece goes), then include them here.
Sample Press Release Templates
Having a press release template goes a long way to helping you figure out where to put everything and how to format it. You can find a free press release template online, but most companies create their own.
When you create a personal press release template for your brand to use, it can be customized with your logo and branding information.
Then, you can use the same press release templates whenever you write information. It’s also easier to send it to the person writing your content, as well.
Here is a regular press release template that works well for most situations:
- Contact info
- Dateline with intro
- Summary bullet point one/two/three (if needed)
- Body paragraph one
- Body paragraph two
- Body paragraph three (if needed)
- Quote (if possible)
- Press contacts
How to Write a Press Release
Now that you have a press release template, the formatting is easier to handle. Still, you must follow the right methods to write it. No press release template can tell you what to write or how to make it “newsy.”
Make the Press Release Headline Irresistible
You know what announcement you want to make, so you have to use the right words to share it all with the community. The press release headline is the first step for success. You’ve got one line to deal with, which is scary, so consider diction and create an attention-grabbing headline.
User clear and understandable language with plenty of action verbs. Also, the headline should be short and sweet. Search engines reward brief messages, so keep the title to one line and focus on what you’re saying.
Make this an interesting and catchy headline. Reporters get tons of press releases every day. Therefore, focus on the key points. That way, it gets picked up and read!
Convey News Value to the Press
For followers, analysts, reporters, and influencers to want to share the announcement, you must tell them immediately why they need to care.
Your first paragraph of the press release must cover what, who, where, how, and why, and it has to do it all in one or two sentences. Reporters don’t have much time to sift through fluff background and details; they need the facts so that they can tell the story to others from an authority position.
The reverse pyramid formula is often used so that no new or crucial information is covered after the intro.
Offer Tempting Quotes
Once you set the scene, you can bring details to life using a quote. Reporters can use it for context and to help them paint a picture for your customer base or industry.
Quotes should ideally be taken from the key stakeholders of the company, such as project leads, executive teams, and those impacted directly by the announcement.
When you quote the key authorities and figures, it focuses the piece around the importance of this development. Don’t go overboard here, though. Choose one or two spokespeople and focus their quotes around the perspective you want to convey.
Provide Background Info for the Subject
Your press release should have about two/three paragraphs that provide the rest of the information people need about the noteworthy story.
As you move to the last paragraph, make sure they already have the vital details they need to spread the story or file it.
Many times, it’s tempting to add tidbits about your company or the development for the announcement, but this is not the place within the press release. You do that later in the boilerplate (about us section).
Sometimes, people feel that a piece isn’t great if it’s not drawn out or incredibly long. However, your press release should be concise and helpful.
Provide details that strengthen the narrative, such as noteworthy or creative ways the company developed the product or project. If applicable, you can comment on the future implications of the announcement.
It’s also possible to add value to the press release by picking newsworthy articles and tying your release to that. For example, someone gets hurt in your community because they weren’t wearing a bicycle helmet, and you just launched a new helmet product. This ties in effortlessly and brings home the message you’re conveying.
Summarize the What and Who in the Boilerplate
One of the biggest pet peeves of reporters is that most press releases don’t explain the company or what the announcement is about. Make your press release easy to reference.
Include your own story or that of the brand. It’s even possible to add the company logo here, too. Just make sure you keep it to a paragraph (three to five sentences).
Use clear English to describe what the company does. You can also link to the homepage so that people can go there to get more information about you. This is also where you include data sources and reference links for any info you cited earlier in the piece.
Many people flounder here because they don’t know what to say. You don’t want to lie or say something improperly. Therefore, it could be helpful to ask a colleague or friend to read the release without giving any context. Do they easily understand why the announcement was made, what the brand does, and why the quotes are used?
Another problem companies have is that they use the old ways of PR strategy. There are plenty of preconceived notions about what to do. However, you should focus now on creating marketable content. You can still use a traditional release, and it has a lot of value when it’s executed properly. Don’t think of releases as just a tactic; give them a makeover to appear more modern.
Press Release Example
Many people believe that a press release has to contain tons of branded terms and buzzwords – think Big Data here. There’s no need to have technical jargon around every corner. Yes, you should include relevant information, but the best actual press releases out there are those that use regular English.
Instead of stuffing the release with jargon, consider more creative approaches. Can you include new information, great videos, graphics, or a Slideshare? If so, this can carry the content well and boost the likeliness of social sharing.
It’s often hard to find really good press release examples out there. While you can easily find a press release template, it doesn’t tell you how to craft it for sharing.
Here are a few press release examples that went above and beyond (in a good way):
Skoda (World Rally Championship)
This event press release example is from a car manufacturer in the Czech Republic. Skoda showed off its racing team for 2017 using an image-based press release to report the event.
It’s easy to see that the look and feel of the brand were aligned with the release, and this is critical for any company. Ultimately, the release starts with a featured image of a vehicle. Then, it includes three bullet points to summarize the news for people and ends with action shots.
ScribbleLive (New Company Acquisition)
This is actually a video press release, and the news content gave reporters everything they had to know for republishing purposes. It was just a two-minute video about the newest acquisition.
ScribbleLive opened it with the company logo and a header to state the news. Then, the CEO jumped into the commentary, offering plenty of quotable information on the industry and why the merger had to happen.
Where to Send Press Releases
There are many places to send press releases once they’re written, such as:
- Industry Publications – Make sure you’re being published in relevant publications. It costs more, but it gives you plenty of exposure.
- News Sites – While you have to battle for attention because there are others out there, your press release should be strong enough to get coverage.
- Bloggers – These people can be very helpful and have enormous reach. Work on building a contact network in the blog universe so that you have a place to go with the press release.
- Industry Partners – Cross-promotion is great if you already have partners to work with. Plus, it can spread over various platforms easily.
Tips for Publishing Your Press Release
Writing the press release is just half the battle. Once you’ve done that, you must focus on distribution. There are various traditional levers to pull here, such as publishing press releases on your blog and website, sharing them on social channels, and sending them in emails. However, to get the best distribution possible for your press release, here are a few tips:
Use Inverted Pyramid Style
A great press release is often one that uses the inverted pyramid style. The media loves it because the most important info is first with the finer details coming as the story progresses. It’s also easier to edit for space.
Ultimately, time-poor journalists love this option because editing is so much easier. The pyramid answers all the questions quickly.
Reach out to Particular Journalists
Instead of just blasting the press release to every journalist you can find online, focus on a few media contacts with experience covering your company and/or industry. Send a personalized message to them and show them why you wrote the piece and how it connects with their writing.
Most journalists get tons of emails every day and must sort through them all. Don’t make them try to find yours in all that mess because it’s unlikely to happen. Send your press release snail mail if you have the time to do so. That sets you apart from the others and makes them take notice, even if they’ve never heard of you before.
Go ahead and follow it up with an email so that it’s easier to communicate.
Send Press Releases to the Best Journalists a Day Before
You must give journalists time to craft their stories around your press release. Therefore, send it to them before it goes live, but make sure that you do so under embargo. This means that they can’t share the information until the release date you specify (in the press release).
Don’t Publish the Press Release on the Hour (Avoid Competition)
Once you write a press release, you are raring to send it and get it out there. The masses have to see what you’re doing and understand that you are there for them. However, most PR firms don’t realize that the competition is also producing press releases all the time. If yours gets published at the top of the hour, it could get lost in the rest of the news.
Many people choose to use a press release distribution service to help them get the news out without having to go to each specific company or domain. However, if you do use a distribution service, wait for a more distinct time, such as 3:18 p.m. or 9:22 a.m.
Most press release distribution services let you pick the time to go live with your release. Use it wisely and stand apart from the competition.
Share Media Coverage
If everything goes well, the press release gets picked up and sees plenty of media coverage. However, you’re not done yet. You must keep the buzz going, so you should release another distribution, called a second wave. Share specific stories that the media coverage produces based on the press release.
Reasons to Send a Press Release
Many people don’t see the point of writing press releases. They are cold messages, but there are benefits to that. The goal is to be straightforward and shocking (but in a good way). Here are just some of the reasons to use a press release:
- Garners Brand Awareness and Attention – Journalists have more reach than your company alone. It makes sense to write a press release to get more awareness for your brand.
- Builds Relationships – Sending a press release is beneficial for you and others. Journalists require stories to do their jobs. If you help with that, you could start a relationship with someone who can benefit you later.
- Improves Search Engine Optimization – Though you have to think about keywords, you can rank for them on search engines if you write the release correctly. Sometimes, journalists use the contributions you include for their blog or article, so it gets backlinks for you from the company website.
- Helps to Manage Your Image – Effective press releases are a great way to control the way your business is viewed by others. Build a brand image and shape the public’s perception through informative and official statements with facts to counteract negative publicity.
When to Send Press Releases
Though you know how to write a press release, that’s not the only thing to consider. You have to understand when to send the news story to see the best press release performance possible.
Just as with social media marketing, the timing of the content is a huge deal. In fact, the time you release your press release could make/break the chances of being successful.
Ideally, you want to send the release at a time to see more media coverage and exposure. That means it should arrive when editors and reporters can go through it all.
The best days to send your release are Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays. Generally, Tuesday has an open rate of 22 percent, and it’s a highly popular day to send releases.
You should be sending the release between 9 a.m. and 2 p.m., but not at the hour. Open rates at those times are well over 45 percent!
You’ve successfully learned how to write a press release, so it’s up to you now. Give it a try; when you get things right, it’s beneficial for you and others. You get the personal satisfaction of achieving something and can take PR to a new level.
However, it’s not easy to craft the perfect press release the first time. Using the press release template shown earlier can help you get the formatting right and make sure you have the right information.
The goal, though, is to see plenty of media coverage and reach your target audience. To do that effectively, you might want to use a free press release template.
After writing your first press release, you may find that it didn’t get the media coverage you were expecting. That’s okay. You can try a second-wave distribution. If that still doesn’t work, it might be helpful to hire someone to write your press releases for you.