how to write a press release; press release format; press release example; sample press release; press release sample; press release examples; writing a press release; what is a press release
David Tile, Founder/CEO @ Article-Writing.co
Marketing a product, brand or service can be a deep, involved process. To see true success, you’ll see businesses putting out several types of content at a time, from rapid-fire social media posts to extended blog posts and whitepapers, designed to create an image of you as an authority in your field. With this in mind, it’s pretty easy to consider press releases as a small blip on the radar. However, failing to get your best article writers in on the act and optimizing this kind of content is an easy way to ship an advantage over to the competition.
Don’t believe it? Let’s take a deep dive into just how necessary these formal offerings are to your digital presence, as well as not just how to write a press release, but also how to effectively promote it. When you see the potential benefits from doing this right, you’ll be singing a different tune regarding press releases in no time.
Why Bother Writing A Press Release?
Before digging in any deeper on the “how” side of things, it’s probably a good idea to cover why press releases matter in the first place. According to industry experts, the importance of reinvigorating your current take on these offerings or having your best article writers handle and incorporate press releases into your content marketing strategy boils down to three cold, hard facts:
- 80 million people get their news online every day.
- 100 million people use search engines every day.
- 64 percent of journalists use Google or Yahoo to follow the news.
The moral of the story here is simple; if you have something big to say, press releases still stand as one of the prime conduits for getting this statement out to the masses. This sentiment holds especially true if you aim to interact with more formal customers and larger organizations as your primary audience.
So, with this in mind, what makes press releases particularly well-suited for reaching this new digital audience? There are a few key reasons here.
1. Brevity: Extended blog posts and whitepapers are an essential part of the content marketing strategy for many businesses. However, not every member of your target audience is going to have the time to read these at every moment. By comparison, press releases are a much more digestible piece of content. At least, provided you know how to write a press release properly.
2. Shareability: We live in an age where social media impressions and interactions are worth their weight in gold. Press releases are particularly well-suited for this format due to their size. Put together an enticing hotline and choose channels your audience is likely to frequent, and your news can spread like wildfire.
3. SEO: You didn’t think we would have a digital marketing conversation without mentioning SEO, did you? Press releases have a unique SEO benefit in that they are a great way to get organic branded keywords online. For example, if you were to implement “X company history” or “X company news” in a blog post about first-time stock investing, it would come across as a bit inauthentic. However, in a press release talking about a recent event at your company, these keywords make a lot more sense to implement. This can help increase your search ranking across a greater selection of keywords.
Niche purposes: As digital marketing grows, most readers have come to expect a certain thing out of their blogs and similar content. Interests have evolved from that traditional 500-word blog post into deeper pillar pages and other content. However, there are a lot of things that you may want to share, that this style doesn’t apply to. For example, it’s not likely you’re going to get to 1500 words or higher about a new hire at your company without going into unwanted filler. A press release is a great way to be able to communicate these needs, while still meeting the expectations of your audience.
What Is A Press Release?
So, before getting into how to write a press release, it’s time we clear the air on what exactly a press release is. The final word here is that:
A press release is a brief, written communication about a specific event, circumstance, or other type of happening.
Most commonly, we see this from businesses, who may need to report about new developments on a rapid basis. However, any type of organization can put one together if they feel that they have something to share. For example, governments often put out press releases, and even individual celebrities may put out a press release regarding an event.
The ultimate goal of a press release, no matter who is providing it, is to ensure that the development or event that you’re reporting on gets increased attention. Many press releases are not only constructed with your average audience in mind, but also to catch the attention of a member of the media or an editor at a publication. In some cases, outlets will see the news on your press release, be interested, and just share it. In other cases, they may be prompted to reach out to you for more details or to serve as a source for a related story.
The latter is a good example of how a press release can be more than just a simple piece of content. Journalists and members of the media are constantly looking to build relationships to enhance their stories and perhaps serve as future sources. As a digital marketer, this is a dream come true. Media members are uniquely poised to help boost your brand, and a press release can be all you need to get it started.
However, when it comes to press releases, there also needs to be a certain amount of tempered expectations in place. There’s no guarantee that your press release is going to lead to any increased attention at first, even if you do everything right. The important thing to do is keep up a persistent stream of quality press release content. If you add this to a “press” section on your website, it makes your overall digital presence look more professional. Eventually, you may catch that potential contact’s attention.
Understanding The Conventional Press Release Format
Now that we’ve talked about what a press release is and what its purpose is, it’s time to start getting into the meat and potatoes of this discussion. This starts with understanding all the different bits and pieces that go into your average press release. We’re going to run down every part you need to know, from top to bottom.
Step 1: The Letterhead.
Bet you thought we were going to talk about headlines first, right? We’ll get to that in a bit, but it’s also important that the top section of your press release has any necessary branding and company information you want your readers to have access to. This can include a logo, as well as contact information for anyone who wants to reach the company with more questions about the story.
Remember, one of the major goals is to get more interest in your company and increase your branding. Missing out on these elements means you fail at both.
Step 2: The Headline.
The sheer amount of questions on forums and social media about “how to create a good headline” show that a lot of marketers and professionals understand its importance, but not necessarily how to put it into practice.
Your average person has an attention span of eight seconds, actually lower than it was a few decades ago. How do you beat this issue? The HubSpot Blog’s Hannah Fleishman points out that an eye-catching headline can do wonders for your fortunes with readers – and search engines. Fleishman’s anatomy of a powerful press release headline looks a little something like this:
- Strong use of action verbs.
- Clear, understandable language.
- Short, sweet, and to the point.
So, for example, “Company Opens Up New Copper Smelting Plant Servicing Lower Ontario” is a pretty weak headline. However, “New Ontario Copper Smelting Plant Promises To Bring Jobs” is better structured and has a secondary hook.
As you’ll soon see, being brief and focused is a recurring theme with the modern take on press releases. However, this mindset all starts with the headline, so it’s imperative that you maximize this portion of the process and capture the attention of the person on the other side of the screen.
Struggling to figure out the best way to extract a powerful headline from your press release content? Perhaps you want to see how to put this in action with a press release sample? Keep track of the latest advice by following our newsletter.
Step 3: Sub-Headline.
In some cases, truncating your headline to read as neat and captivating means that you may have to leave off information you really wanted your reader to know right away, like perhaps your location or some of the reasons why your company took a certain action. The sub-headline, which runs right under your headline, is a chance to do this, to an extent.
Generally, your sub-headline should be around two sentences or so, and provide a little more detail about what the body of the press release will be like. However, you still want to follow the rules of a good headline, like lots of action verbs and language that’s easy to understand. You just have a little more word count to work with.
Step 4: Release Date.
Note that when it comes to your release date, you have a bit of freedom on where you can put this. If you look up press release samples, you’ll see some have it under the logo on the letterhead or other places, but it should always be near the top. The reason for this is that the release date lets media quickly determine how relevant a press release date is. The more recent, the better in just about every case.
Now, with the opening parts of the press release taken care of, we can begin to discuss the body of the release. A lot of people make the mistake of approaching this like a blog post on a given subject, but that will almost guarantee that your audience will lose interest before the end.
Step 5: Dateline.
The dateline of a press release generally reads as follows: city, state/province, month, day, and immediately precedes the first sentence of the press release body. The main reason for this, again, is to let readers know quickly whether the news is relevant to them or not.
Step 6: Body.
Seeing as this is going to take up the bulk of your text, it’s important that you understand what defines a strong press release body. First off, in terms of word count, you still want to keep things relatively brief, in the 300-600 word neighborhood. Brevity is still important in the body of the press release as well. Along with keeping your word count low, you also want to make sure that you don’t let your paragraphs run too long, not over 2-4 sentences. Remember, you should only be going over relevant points to the event, not background details about your company.
Your opening paragraph should mainly be focused on the who, what, why, when and how of the story. Your dateline will help with this, but you want to be sure to add additional context as needed. For example, if you were a restaurant opening a second location, the reader should know, within the first few sentences:
- What type of restaurant you are
- Where the new location is
- Why you chose the new location
- When they can expect it to open
- How the expansion is expected to improve your business
However, a bit of a caveat when it comes to press releases is that going over these details can get a bit dry after a while. Remember, journalists are often reading a huge swath of press releases everyday. This is why many smart writers try to use additional details like quotes and statistics in order to try and enhance their content. If you’re putting out exclusively digital content, you can even embed relevant images and videos. Just like in any other piece of content marketing, the end goal here is extra value. Extra value means more interest from your potential media partners or clients.
Step 7: Boilerplate.
If this was a blog post, you’d probably be wondering at what point you get to the CTA. If you were drafting a social media post, you’d probably wonder where the hashtags should go. The point of saying this is that every piece of digital marketing content generally has some way to turn the value you’re providing back to your business in some way. The boilerplate section of a press release is a chance for you to put this into action.
Generally, this serves as a block of text, no longer than a paragraph or so, where you can go into detail about what your company is and what it does. This is more useful for journalists than your average customer who likely knows your company, and is just reading the release for new information about a certain development. For a journalist, this helps provide valuable context about your company to see if it makes sense for them to try and follow up. As a result, you want to go more informative than “salesy” with the content here.
Step 8: Final Notation
Conventionally, the body portion of a press release ends with a ### symbol at the center of the page. However, if you didn’t place this information at the beginning, you can also supply contact details for your marketing team or company head. Be sure to include as many forms as possible. Different journalists may have different preferences.
Knowing how to write a press release is about knowing both the format and style that meshes with this content. The journalists you’re looking to work with can get dozens, maybe even hundreds of press releases in their inboxes daily. What does this mean? They’re basically looking for reasons to put press releases in their trash in order to try and lighten the load. The slightest deviation from standard format, or a weak headline, can be a good enough cause.
If you find yourself struggling to find a proper format to work with, there are a lot of press release template resources out there. Here’s a list of some press release examples and samples you can work with.
While the bulk of press releases out there follow a general format, there are going to be cases where you need to add certain information or features based on your niche or the type of announcements. If you do a little digging, there are press release samples you can find that meet these needs.
Improving And Refining Your Press Release
So, let’s do a little recap of what we’ve covered so far. We understand:
- What a press release is.
- Why you need to create them for your business.
- Which elements you need to include.
Of course, simply tossing something together and calling it good isn’t enough to satisfy the need for strong press release content. As Maggie Holley of PR Daily points out, it’s all too easy to fall apart on this front if you’re not careful. For starters, failing to have the best article writers or a professional editor on your side can easily lead to an unprofessional document that is rife with incorrect facts and grammatical errors. The best content around can be useless if not presented correctly and professionally.
Additionally, it’s hard for those without experience in this area of the content marketing world not to come off as “salesy” or lacking focus as you try to find that perfect blend of newsworthy content and appeal. Simply put, writing a great press release requires an expert understanding of how best to mix what readers expect out of this content with the story you want to tell this audience.
This is why a lot of people wisely try to avoid the trial and error of subpar press releases, and opt to use outside services instead. If you’re in the market for outsourcing your press release work. Article-Writing.co’s Press Release Writing Service has a current 25% discount from $199 to $149.
With this in mind, there are a lot of questions you need to ask yourself when it comes to taking your press release from a template or idea in your head to a complete finished product. Here are some of the things you need to ponder after learning how to write a press release.
Is Your Content Press Release Worthy?
“First, be sure you have a good reason for sending a press release.” – Entrepreneur magazine staff
These words, from the staff of Entrepreneur magazine, embody the first step that goes into writing a successful release. You know the purpose of a press release, so let’s focus on what can sink it. One major issue can be that your topic simply isn’t worth the attention you’re trying to garner. Good reasons come in many shapes or forms and often rely heavily on what’s relevant to your industry.
The grand opening of a new facility or branch within your organization, a new product line, or even a notice of record-setting sales from the past year are some strong examples of this notion. Figuring out what exactly serves as a “release-worthy” piece of information is ultimately just like any other marketing, you need to know your audience. If you misfire and create a press release without any meaningful content for your audience, it’s virtually impossible for your press release to ever win over a digital crowd.
Avoid Content Regurgitation
With the hook for your press release properly made, we can start talking about the content. Graham Charlton of Econsultancy explains that the temptation to either regurgitate old content or stuff your offering with filler is something that you must avoid at all costs. Great press release content says what it needs to say in an expedient and concise manner, so don’t be afraid to jump straight to the point. Remember that attention span issue we’re talking about.
Yes, you’ll still want to provide your readers with an enjoyable and structured experience, just like what’s found in the blog content offered by the best article writers, but that doesn’t mean you need to artificially inflate the word count on this piece. For things like blogs and whitepapers, going into added detail can be seen as a bonus, but for a press release, it’s a negative. Your average reader expects a press release to quickly cover an important development, and perhaps have a link to a place they can get more info. Short and straightforward is a good thing on the press release front.
Quotes Go a Long Way
“Quotes should be used to provide insight and opinion and sound like a real person said them. They definitely shouldn’t be full of jargon or technical language.” – Janet Murray, The Guardian
As the above excerpt from The Guardian’s Janet Murray highlights, one of the most powerful tools found within press releases comes in the form of insider insight and quotes. Ideally, you want to tap an employee or respected voice in your industry to talk about the release’s main focus. This adds both engagement and authority to your content. Quotes – when used properly and devoid of unnecessary jargon or technical language – can definitely supercharge an otherwise mediocre press release.
A Successful Press Release Example In Action
Now, it’s time to look at exactly how all these different facts and items come together to create a proper sample press release. This example of a press release was created to promote a live pitch competition event, and the main goal here was to try and attract press coverage and interest. Let’s take a look at some of the key components of the example press release and see how it meets some of the needs that we’ve been discussing so far.
Colorful and Informative Letterhead
A dash of color goes a long way in helping a piece standout, which the logo here provides. In addition, the contact information at the top makes it extremely clear who people can contact if they have more questions about the event.
A Brief, But Informative Headline/Sub-headline
Ideally, you want your headline and sub-headline to be an effective one-two punch when it comes to drawing in interest. The headline here is more informative, describing the involved company and event. It’s the sub-headline where the interest comes in, bringing in the “Dragon’s Den” comparison.
Data matters in content marketing of any kind, press releases included. By showing statistics from the previous year’s Hawk’s Nest event, the press release instantly provides a reason for journalists in the niche (medtech) to be interested in what it has today. By adding several major publications that covered that same event, it also offers a hint to potential other journalists that the upcoming event is worth their time and effort.
Having a Point
This may sound a little brusque, but the fact of the matter is that this press release is built, from top to bottom, to show you why the Hawk’s Nest event matters. From explaining the previous coverage, to talking about the previous winner, to explaining planned improvements, this press release gives one clear central point: we’re making a successful event even better this year. Because of this, the technical details of the event serve as informative rather than filler.
Feel free to use this as a press release sample to help inform your future plans and content.
Promoting A Press Release
Now, you fully understand how to write a press release. However, the work doesn’t stop there. The best content in the world doesn’t amount to much if you can’t put it in front of that target audience you’ve been building around. This is what makes promoting a press release so important. We mentioned earlier that nothing is guaranteed when it comes to catching the attention of the press, but that doesn’t mean you can’t stack the deck in your favor. Here are some key ways to make this happen.
Less Is More
When you’ve gone through all this effort to put together a press release, it’s tempting to think that the best way to find success is to send it to every name in your contact list, journalist and non-journalist alike. This could be a potential recipe for disaster, though. If you cast a wide net, there’s a greater likelihood of your press release going into the inbox of people who aren’t going to have any use for it. As a result, they feel you’re spamming, block your email, and you’ve now lost that prospect forever.
A better approach to take, especially for small businesses, is finding a few local journalists who may have worked with your kind of story before. These people may be more likely to promote your press release, and maybe even interview you for more details.
Make A Good Impression
The bulk of press releases these days are distributed to journalists by email. Generally, a marketer will quickly introduce themselves and the release and offer the opportunity for further discussion if interested. However, there’s a right and a wrong way to do this. For example, much like the release itself, a bland headline is a sure-fire interest killer. For your introduction, make sure that you add a personalized element to catch your prospect’s attention. Finally, when you copy in the body of the release, do one last check for any grammatical or spelling errors.
Know The Difference Between Additional Details And Stat-Dumping
Raw numbers aren’t necessarily going to help your press release as much as you think they do. The key to using statistics is to inform or back up an existing point that you’re making. Economy of text is your best friend, so when you add a statistic, be sure to think about it. Is this going to somehow inform a journalist’s experience? Does it clear up a question they would otherwise need to ask you?
Distribution Services: Worth The Money?
There are some pieces saying that online press release distribution is dead, but this is a half truth. Can partnering with an outside service to distribute your press releases still be effective? Yes. However, a company that does it well is going to cost you. The reason for this is that a good distribution service will have a regularly updated list of media members and journalists that fit your niche, rather than sending your releases to a set list of emails they have on file. Cheaper services may have lists with irrelevant or expired contacts. For small business owners, it may be more cost effective to try and do the legwork on your own. When you are ready to make the jump, you’re best served working with the biggest names around, like PR Newswire and others.
How To Write A Press Release (With Help)
By this point, it’s no big secret that a winning press release is all about being straightforward with your audience. Do some gimmicks work for brands in the digital world? Perhaps. However, if you want to consistently build a strong relationship with your audience via this medium, then it’s clear to see that sticking to a solid and concise approach is the way to go.
If you can back up a brief and newsworthy message with a powerful headline, strong quotes, and a willingness to avoid filler, then there’s no reason why your next press release can’t stand above those offered by the competition as a winning offering. Regardless of which industry you call home, it’s hard to pass up on this kind of outlook.
A successful press release can be the difference between a product or service rollout catching fire or fizzling out. The insight in this article can help you figure out exactly how to manage this, but in some cases, you may not have the manpower or manhours to fully put it into practice. This is where outside press release writing services are so useful. If you’re interested in going this route, Article-Writing.co’s Press Release Writing Service has a current 25% discount from $199 to $149. Click here to learn more about the details.
Along with this, the landscape of press releases and effective content is evershifting as the needs and tastes of audiences change. Be sure to follow our newsletter for the latest press release news and tips.