How To Write a Press Release
In this age of digital media, the importance of a press release is still vitally important. Usually, it is a one-page announcement of a significant event with your business, such as a product launch or a new CEO’s appointment.
A well-written press release is a thing of beauty and will reflect positively on your business. So how do you do it? In this guide, we’ll show you how and cover:
- What Is a Press Release?
- Why Should a Business Send a Press Release?
- 8 Common Types of Press Release
- Key Format Elements of a Press Release
- How To Write a Press Release – The Best Tips and Tricks
- When Is the Right Time to Send a Press Release?
- How To Review the Press Release Performance
- Where to Send Your Press Release
- Get Started On Your Next Press Release
What Is a Press Release?
At its core, a press release is a short document to grab the press’s attention. The press release is a perfect way to let people know what news is out there and invite them to learn more.
It is a powerful communications tool that lets businesses tell the world of upcoming events, product launches, staff changes (like the aforementioned new CEO), or changes in how the company operates.
Why Should a Business Send a Press Release?
To stand out from the pack, you need media coverage. Positive press about you, your company, your client, or your event is what it’s all about.
Always remember your press release has to excite the attention of the journalists who receive it. Journalists are busy and under pressure to find stories. If you can serve up some gold content on a platter that is exciting, easy to read, and good news, then they will eat it up. Then, you and your business reap the rewards of free publicity.
Fostering relationships with journalists by providing them with some company background and your contact details allows them to build up your company’s profile and encourages them to write deeper if there’s sufficient buzz generated around the story.
Brand building with a range of publications that have an interest in your niche or can publicize you in your geographical operating areas will go a long way towards establishing a solid foundation for your activities.
Press releases are actual news stories, with all that entails, even if they occasionally may not be presented exactly as you would like by the journalist.
If you want an advertorial that gives you complete control of the content, just be upfront and buy the space in the publication of your choice.
There are many great reasons to write a press release for your business.
- Crisis management — PR firms are there for you when you need help. You want to put out any fires with a press release explaining your truth or lessen the fallout from a crisis with an apology and a show of empathy.
In early March 2021, Oprah interviewed the Royal couple, Harry and Meghan. The most significant controversy that came from the interview was the implication that a Senior Royal commented about the potential color of Harry and Meghan’s baby because of Meghan’s mixed heritage.
Two days later, the queen released a statement (a press release) that said:
"The whole family is saddened to learn the full extent of how challenging the last few years have been for Harry and Meghan," the Queen's statement said.
The issues raised, particularly that of race, are concerning.
While some recollections may vary, they are taken very seriously and will be addressed by the family privately,
Harry, Meghan and Archie will always be much loved family members."
- Launching a new product — If you are launching a new product or service, some of the best marketing and publicity you can get is free through news coverage.
The best way to get coverage for a new product is through good news. How will this product benefit society or those people who buy it and use it?
Recently, PepsiCo announced a partnership with NBA star LeBron James to launch its new energy drink MTN DEW RISE ENERGY. You can view this new product launch press release here.
- Announcing new staff — For high-profile companies and businesses, it can be a good idea to let them know when there has been a change of staff in your business. It could indicate a new direction, a fresh start, or more.
These kinds of press releases are generally aimed at people in the industry.
8 Common Types of Press Release
There may be more than this, but here are eight of the most common types of press releases with a basic description of each.
General News Release
Event Press Release
It is what it says — an event — and timing is everything with this one. Too soon… everyone forgets. Too late… everyone’s already booked out. Best to get your info in early but embargo the release to a specific date, typically two weeks out from the event.
Launch Press Release
New service? Or are you launching the company itself? Either way, it’s an exciting time for you and your public. There’s a template to suit every occasion and examples to lend guidance where needed.
Product Press Release
Whatever else you do, make the product sound irresistible without straying into hyperbole. A few of the finer details are great to accompany your killer headline.
Award Press Release
If the award is to an individual, name them, their position, and the award, with a quote from the award organizer. If the award is to you or your business, lap it up and modestly say how hard you’ve worked.
Partnership Press Release
Satisfy three elements, and you’ve got it covered. Who is partnering, why you are partnering, and why it’s great for both businesses and the customers.
Rebranding Press Release
Be very clear about the reasons for the new direction while reassuring your customers that the great products they are used to will be even better — and the service will continue uninterrupted.
Key Format Elements of a Press Release
There’s a fairly standard formula outlined to hook the media. Follow it and you really can’t go wrong…
Top right-hand corner, every time, without fail. You’ve got a brand — use it.
Include the heading ‘Press Release’ with the date of issue of the release and the finer details if you want to embargo the date. Make sure the date is fresh when an embargo applies.
Identify the person fielding media and press inquiries with their full name, email address, and phone number.
One line that says it all. Newsworthy and interesting. Go for the killer line if you have one, keeping it on the subject. Journalists love headlines, so don’t be surprised if they use their own when writing the story.
Say when it is happening or available.
Here’s where you get to say it all — in one sentence. This is the hook… bait it well and wait for the bite.
Body Paragraphs (Include Dot Points and Figures)
Now for the details of the matter. Take logical steps and don’t repeat yourself, taking care to fill out the story.
A few lines about your business to supply an overview: this gives the journalist covering the story some background and some contact information.
The least important information is here. And don’t forget to close the release with –Ends– giving the journalist the signal that the content requiring media coverage has finished.
Want a template to go by when writing a press release? Use our free press release template to get the ball rolling.
How To Write a Press Release — The Best Tips and Tricks
Now we come to the nuts and bolts. The majority of PR firms and news wires would prefer that you stick to a standard press release format adapted to the country in which your business operates, as previously detailed.
Unless you feel the need to present something quirky or original as far as layout goes, it's probably best to stick to the format to maximize your exposure in as many publications as possible.
Writing a great press release may take a little time and effort to learn, but it’s well worth it for the results it will bring for your business and the money you’ll save on hiring public relations professionals.
An effective press release generates instant media coverage, focuses on your target audience, and garners social media activity.
Let’s go for gold!
Speak in the third person at all times in the press release — save the ‘we’ and ‘ours’ for the interviews later. And always write from the company viewpoint.
Most importantly, an effective press release is striking because it’s newsworthy and exciting. Take the tip: if you’re bored, everyone will be bored. And bored goes nowhere… it gets thrown into the journalist’s trash can.
One line only — 6 to 12 compelling words that hook the journalist and the reader.
This is your pitch, so take your time to form it well. It tells a story and will be the subject line of your email to the media outlet, so spend most of your creative effort here and in the lead paragraph.
If you can wow the journalist straight up, your primary task is done.
Remember — adjectives are your friends.
Intriguing Lead Paragraph
Having captured attention with your headline, here’s where you nail it down. You have 20 to 30 words to expand and give body to the story.
This short paragraph should contain four to five vital newsworthy points. It is the essence of the story.
Write in the Inverted Pyramid Style
It’s formulaic, but everyone uses it because it works!
The media love it. As the most important information appears first and the finer details are added as the story progresses, editing for space is easily and quickly achieved by simply cutting the least essential info from the bottom of the template and working up.
For time-poor journalists, this ease of editing is a big plus.
The pyramid answers these key questions (as best as possible): who, what, why, when, where, and how.
- Headline piques interest and outlines what the story is about
- Paragraph 1 condenses the whole story into 20-30 words, including the who, when, and where
- Paragraph 2 provides background, context, and why it’s happening
- Paragraph 3 fleshes the story out, how it developed
- Paragraph 4 introduces quotes from a key player, celebrity, or spokesperson to broaden the appeal
- Paragraph 5 provides info on where to buy products, the cost, website address, and when there may be further events or associated activities
Short Sentences, Short Paragraphs
The layout should be open, clear, and easy on the eyes. Open layouts make it easy to spot repetition, and you simply don’t have space in a press release to repeat yourself.
Long sentences and too much detail lead to long paragraphs that are the enemy of attention, so be concise and precise. Bring the reader with you to the end.
Make it Memorable
There’s just one story to tell in each press release, so make it count by making it memorable.
Create a lasting image in the reader’s mind, and you’re well on the way to the social media coverage that could turn a good launch into a great launch.
Add Figures and Numbers
Statistics and numbers, in general, can be dry. However, they can also be very pertinent and add significant weight to the story you have to tell.
Dramatic numbers will bolster your case … just make sure they’re accurate.
The last thing anyone wants to do is to pull the rug from under their own feet.
Include Quotes by Experts
The quote is fixed — it can’t be edited — so make sure it adds to or provides further detail to the story.
Platitudes or vanilla quotes are just padding and are a sign you’ve run out of ideas.
If the quote begins with “We are pleased to …” or “We are delighted …” the alarm bells should be ringing. An accurate quote elaborates, gives reasons, tells why, expresses outside opinions, or raises controversial viewpoints while always communicating the spokesperson’s passion.
Include the quoted person’s full name and status — and make sure they’re confident and competent enough to deal with a subsequent interview if it’s requested.
Add Your Contact Information
After completing the press release with Ends or ####, add the complete contact information of the person responsible for dealing with media and press inquiries.
Don’t Forget Your Brand Boilerplate
Interested parties do read this far, and yes, analysis readily shows they do click on the links.
Good information to add here is the company history, goals and achievements, partnerships, and affiliations not essential to the story can be included in this section.
A ‘Notes to the Editor’ box detailing extra links and stats relevant to topics arising in the release will provide useful background if the journalist or reader wishes to expand on or follow up the story, now or later.
When Is the Right Time to Send a Press Release?
You’ve written your newsworthy story with its killer headline and compelling content, so when do you send it to the recipients?
‘For Immediate Release’ is standard practice, but what point in the cycle would be optimal?
Most PR professionals say Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday are preferable. Mondays are too full, and Fridays are too busy, or everyone’s thinking about the weekend.
As for the time of day, research does suggest that between 9 a.m. and 2 p.m. may provide some advantages. After lunch, the ‘open rate’ sinks low.
And almost everyone publishes on the hour, so you could specify an odd time to gain a slight advantage — like 9:22 a.m., or 10:36 a.m., or 12:43 p.m.
The main thing is, get it out there while it’s hot! If it’s a real attention-grabber, it’ll find its way to the top of the pile.
How To Review the Press Release Performance
Using a quality distribution channel to promote your release makes it easy — they have dashboards that tell you everything you need to know, and they provide tracking info and numbers on clicks and reads.
But there’s a catch … they cost money. Good money.
Google Alerts is free and may be ideal for your business. It’s easy to use and works on a keyword system that does tracking for you.
Another thing you can do is use the Semrush Link Building Tool without delay.
It’s a comprehensive and invaluable aid for your business in gaining exposure and traction in all forms of media and industry circles. Best of all, it monitors the reach of your outreach prospects and backlinks.
How To Monitor Prospects and Backlinks with Semrush
Step 1: Create an account with Semrush.
Step 2: Login into your dashboard and locate the ‘SEO’ tab on the top left of the dashboard.
Step 3: Under the ‘SEO’ tab, locate the ‘Link Building’ section. Click on the ‘Link Building Tool’ feature below.
Step 4: Click on the ‘Prospects’ tab to identify potential prospects you’d like to monitor.
Where to Send Your Press Release
They can be helpful, as some have enormous reach. Building a network of contacts in the blogosphere should be high on your list.
Social media influencers are another source with huge followings that may be interested. They do charge a fee, but it may be modest per exposure.
Cross-promotion is free advertising if you already have partners that you work with. Rapid multiple platform spread will be the result.
The more partners you have, the more you can split the costs of promotion. There’s also a greater likelihood of enhancing your brand recognition by partnering with firms with an established reputation.
Get Started On Your Next Press Release
With all that said, now it’s up to you.
Give it a go — it’s advantageous when you get it right, both in the sense of personal satisfaction and achievement and for the golden chance of financial reward that effective PR delivers.
However, DIY press releases aren’t for everyone. For the novice, they may just be too nerve-wracking and time-consuming.
If that’s the case, here are two links that may prove to be invaluable if you wish to contract these services out.
Semrush provides a comprehensive range of PR services to suit everyone’s needs — from a start-up or sole trader to a multinational corporation.
As leaders in our field, we can cover everything from an eminently affordable basic press release to a long-term worldwide campaign… and everything in between. Try the Semrush marketplace for ordering press releases for your business or client.
Need extra support? Use the Semrush owned company, Prowly, which specializes in PR and Media Relations, and internal and external communications software that connect all PR activities into one place. That could be very useful indeed.
Now you’re ready, here’s to expressive and satisfying writing.